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Big Birds

August 12, 2011

Rheanna Sand

For someone who has a fear of flying, I sure do have a fascination with flying things lately. Last week I wrote about things hurtling above us in outer space. The week before that I wrote about bats. Today, I almost wrote about how the U.S. military “lost” the world’s fastest aircraft – an unmanned, hypersonic jet capable of flying 20 times the speed of sound. Official reports say it crashed into the Pacific but I suspect it’s either on its way back to our original home planet, or has traveled back in time. Or both.

But it was the most original flying things in the news this week – birds! But not just any birds… ancient, GIANT birds. A huge footlong jawbone was described in Biology Letters, and the authors believe it belonged to a bird that inhabited what is now Kazakhstan and stood 2-3 metres tall. For reference, Shaquille O’Neal is 2.13m tall, so even Shaq could get his eyes pecked out by this beast. Looking at this chart comparing ancient birds to the size of a Charlie’s Angel should make us all a tad ornithophobic, don’t you think?

 


 

Giant bird fossils are nothing new, but what was most interesting about this find was it’s age. It was dated to the Cretaceous period, when tyrannosaurs and triceratops were roaming around, and also when pterosaurs were gliding the skies. There was some doubt as to whether the winged dinosaurs and giant birds co-existed, as mostly crow-sized or smaller birds had been discovered alongside the dinosaurs. This finding delineates two locations that giant birds roamed – in Madagascar, and now this one from Asia.

As long as it didn’t have human eyes, I’m sure it was cute as all heck…

(click the picture to see more gems like this)

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