Phorusrhacos

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Phorusrhacos
Temporal range: Miocene
Drawing of Phorusrhacos by Charles R. Knight
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Cariamae
Family: Phorusrhacidae
Genus: Phorusrhacos
Ameghino, 1887
Binomial name
Phorusrhacos longissimus
Ameghino, 1887

Phorusrhacos was a genus of giant predatory flightless birds which lived in Patagonia. The terror birds lived in woodlands and grasslands. Remains are known from several localities in the Santa Cruz Province, of Argentina.

Phorusrhacos stood around 2.5 meters (8 ft) tall and weighed approximately 130 kilograms (280 lbs).[1] It was nicknamed the "Terror Bird" for obvious reasons: it was one of the largest carnivorous birds ever to have existed, along with Titanis, Kelenken and Brontornis. Its rudimentary wings had claws shaped like a meat hook for tackling prey, which was then killed with the massive beak. It ate small mammals and carrion.

Its skull was up to sixty centimeters long, armed with a powerful, hook-tipped beak. The structure of the beak and the large claws on the toes show that this was a bird of prey. It raced over the grassy plateaus and hills of Patagonia, catching small reptiles and mammals leaving larger prey to its more massive relatives such as Brontornis.

Large birds[change | edit source]

Skull of a Phorusrhacos longissimus, Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto.

References[change | edit source]

  1. Alvarenga, Herculano M. F. & Höfling, Elizabeth 2003. Systematic revision of the Phorusrhacidae (Aves: Ralliformes). Papéis Avulsos de Zoologia 43: 55-91 PDF fulltext