So was the

ave_terrorTheAndalgalornis, a five-foot-tall bird that could not fly and lived between 23 and 5 million years ago, in the period known as the Miocene, was a fearedpredator that delivered boxer blows to kill prey, as revealed by a study carried out by an international team of paleontologists.

To reach this conclusion, the researchers used a CT scan of the animal’s skull and engineering techniques, which allowedreproduce their movements in three dimensionson a computer. It is the first time that the method of attack of a specimen of an already extinct group of large flightless birds of the family has been analyzed.Phorusrhacidae, popularly known as“birds of terror”for its imposing size.

Specifically, the specimen studied lived in northwestern Argentina six million years ago,he was 1.4 meters tall and weighed about 40 kilos. Its extremely rigid skull measured 37 centimeters and was endowed with a curved beak like that of a hawk and surprisingly hollow inside. Techniques show that the agile creature repeatedly attacked and recoiled after each precise blow it delivered to its victim. Details have been published in the magazinePLoS ONE.

Scientists from Argentina, the US, Australia and France were able to determine their hunting method by comparing 3D models of the terror bird and two current species, the eagle and the seriema, considered to be its closest living relative. The researchers also measured the strength of the bird’s bite compared to the eagle and seriema and determined that it was lower than expected. For this reason, the “bird of terror” was forced to usea method similar to that of boxers, consisting of an attack and retreat strategy, with precise blows like those of an ax.

“Birds in general have a skull with a large amount of mobility points between the bones that compose it, which allows them to have light but strong skulls. However, we find inAndalgalornisthat these points of mobility have become rigid, immobile joints.This bird has a strong skull, despite having a curiously hollow beak“, explained Lawrence Witmer, of the Ohio University College of Osteopathic Medicine, professor of paleontology and anatomy. The evolution of the beak is presumably associated with theloss of flight ability, as well as its large size.

The “terror birds”, which fed on mammals that are now extinct and competed with saber-toothed marsupials, became the main predators in their environment.

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