Scientists have found a new kind of prehistoric terror bird, or phorusrhacids, fossil in South America, which is being dubbed Llallawavis scagliai. In the native Quechua language, Llallawa means magnificent, avis means bird. To date, the discovery is the most complete fossil record of this type of huge, flightless and carnivorous prehistoric bird.
The prehistoric terror bird brings to light new details about its genetic makeup that aren’t usually as well preserved. This includes the skull’s auditory area, the bird’s voice box, the entire trachea and palate, as well as the bones that help to focus its eyes on its prey. Most of these details are usually lost over the millions of years. The discovery and findings were recently published in a paper in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology; the lead author was Dr. Federico Degrange of the Centro de Investigaciones en Ciencias de la Tierra, CONICET and the Universidad Nacional de Córdoba, Argentina.
The Terror Bird
This new species of terror bird has been given the name Scaglia’s Magnificent Bird, in honor of Galileo Juan Scaglia, a famed naturalist. The bird, which lived during the Pliocene era about three and a half million years ago, is believed to have been a main predator; new fossils shows that it was capable of using intraspecific acoustic communication to find its prey. The huge carnivore stood around 1.2 meters (4-feet) tall and up to 70 kilograms (154 pounds) in weight. It also had a hooked and jagged beak for tearing flesh; other varieties of these carnivorous birds could grow to 10-feet tall.
If you want to see more of this type of phorusrhacids, or prehistoric terror bird, you can take an adventure and travel to almost any museum that displays prehistoric skeletons. Ranging all over South America, this type of terror bird was very common. In fact, many fossils of this type have been uncovered, although none that are as complete and intact as this one.
For a quick look into South America and its culture, check out “Cooking the Continent.”