Artist’s impression of Pachystruthio dmanisensis, an unusually large bird that lived nearly 2 million years ago in Europe.
In fact, the only birds that really compare are the extinct elephant birds of Madagascar and the extinct moas of New Zealand.
Consequently, these large birds “might have been a source of meat, bones, feathers, and eggshell for early hominin populations,” wrote the authors in the new study, which was led by Nikita Zelenkov from the Russian Academy of Sciences.
An analysis of butchered animal bones suggests humans had somehow ventured to Madagascar by at… Read more Read That early humans may have hunted these birds is a distinct possibility.
Image: N. V. Zelenkov et al., 2019 “When I first felt the weight of the bird whose thigh bone I was holding in my hand, I thought it must be a Malagasy elephant bird fossil because no birds of this size have ever been reported from Europe.
Conventional thought was that birds could afford to lose flight and get really large only if there were no terrestrial mammals to compete with or hide from.
This new report of giant birds coexisting with large mammals is forcing us to rethink those assumptions,” said Torres, who wasn’t affiliated with the new research.