Big Terror Birds Have been Apex Predators of Eocene-Interval Antarctica

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Paleontologists have unearthed two fossilized phalanges of an historical carnivorous chicken on Seymour Island, Antarctica.

Paleoenvironmental reconstruction of the Early Eocene continental communities of Seymour Island: a large cariamiform bird hunting a medium-sized ungulate and staring at Notiolofos regueroi, a couple of marsupials on a tree, Antarctoboenus carlinii flying on the sky, and a flightless Ratites in the back. Image credit: Carolina Acosta Hospitaleche & Washington Jones, doi: 10.26879/1340.

Paleoenvironmental reconstruction of the Early Eocene continental communities of Seymour Island: a big cariamiform chicken looking a medium-sized ungulate and watching Notiolofos regueroi, a few marsupials on a tree, Antarctoboenus carlinii flying on the sky, and a flightless Ratites within the again. Picture credit score: Carolina Acosta Hospitaleche & Washington Jones, doi: 10.26879/1340.

The traditional chicken fossils have been discovered within the La Meseta Formation on Seymour Island in West Antarctica.

“These phalanges belonged to a big large predator, estimated to have had a physique mass of round 100 kg,” stated Dr. Carolina Acosta Hospitaleche from the Universidad Nacional de La Plata and Dr. Washington Jones from the Uruguay’s Museo Nacional de Historia Pure.

The specimens are roughly 50 million years previous (Early Eocene epoch).

They belong to a kind of phorusrhacid (generally often called terror birds), an extinct household throughout the order Cariamiformes.

“Cariamiformes is an order of primarily terrestrial birds that displays a major previous diversification however solely two species live at present in South America,” the paleontologists stated.

“Regardless of the wealthy fossil report, the phylogenetic and biogeographic relationships inside this order stay poorly understood.”

“Inside the Cariamiformes, Phorusrhacidae composes the crown-group with Cariamidae, whereas Idiornithidae and Bathornthidae have been recognized recoveredidentified as fossil households.”

The fossilized phalanges of an ancient cariamiform bird from Seymour Island, Antarctica. Scale bar - 10 mm. Image credit: Carolina Acosta Hospitaleche & Washington Jones, doi: 10.26879/1340.

The fossilized phalanges of an historical cariamiform chicken from Seymour Island, Antarctica. Scale bar – 10 mm. Picture credit score: Carolina Acosta Hospitaleche & Washington Jones, doi: 10.26879/1340.

The Antarctic terror birds most definitely preyed on small marsupials and medium-sized ungulates.

“They might be lively hunters that fulfilled the position of continental apex predators apparently sub-occupied by mammals within the Paleogene Antarctic communities,” the researchers stated.

“Massive Phorusrhacidae-like birds signify a guild hitherto unknown to Antarctica.”

“These findings unequivocally reshape our understanding of the dynamic of Early Eocene Antarctic continental ecosystems.”

The outcomes seem on-line within the journal Palaeontologia Electronica.

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Carolina Acosta Hospitaleche & Washington Jones. 2024. Have been terror birds the apex continental predators of Antarctica? New findings within the early Eocene of Seymour Island. Palaeontologia Electronica 27 (1): a13; doi: 10.26879/1340



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