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Giant Ostrich - Pachystruthio dmanisensis
Giant Ostrich - Pachystruthio dmanisensis

Temporal range: Late Pliocene–Early Pleistocene 

Scientific classification
Kingdom:  Animalia
Phylum:  Chordata
Class:  Aves
Order:  Struthioniformes
Family:  Struthionidae
Genus: Pachystruthio
Species:  Pachystruthio dmanisensis  Вurchak-Abramovich & Vekua, 1990

Struthio dmanisensis

Struthio dmanisensis, the giant ostrich, is an extinct Eurasian species of ostrich which lived in the Late Pliocene to the Early Pleistocene of Georgia. It was one of the largest members of the genus Struthio, reaching up to 11 feet tall.

Big birds: Giant, 1,000-pound birds once roamed around Europe

by Edward Baig, Usa Today

[Image: bigbirdsgian.jpg]
An artist's conception of the giant, 1,000-pound bird that once roamed around Europe. Credit: Andrey Atuchin

Talk about your big bird.
At 1,000 pounds and over 10 feet tall, it was one of the largest birds that ever lived in Earth's history. And almost 2 million years ago, early Europeans lived alongside some of these huge birds, according to new research published Wednesday.
Bones of the huge, long-extinct bird were recently discovered in a cave in Crimea.
"We estimate it weighed about 1,000 pounds," said study lead author Nikita Zelenkov of the Russian Academy of Sciences. "This formidable weight is nearly three times the largest living bird, the common ostrich, and nearly as much as an adult polar bear."
The bird would have towered above early humans. Scientists speculate that it was likely flightless but was probably able to run quite fast.
Speed may have been key to the bird's survival, the study said. Alongside its bones, scientists also found fossils of huge carnivores such as giant cheetah, giant hyenas and saber-toothed cats.
According to the study, the bird may have also been a source of meat, bones, feathers and eggshells for early humans.
It was previously thought that such giant birds only lived on the islands of Madagascar and New Zealand as well as Australia. This is the first giant bird ever discovered in the Northern Hemisphere.
What current bird might it most resemble? "We don't have enough data yet to say whether it was most closely related to ostriches or to other birds," Zelenkov said.
The bones were discovered during the construction of a new highway in Crimea. "Last year, mammoth remains were unearthed (there) and there may be much more the site will teach us about Europe's distant past," he said.
The study was published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.

Journal Reference:

Nikita V. Zelenkov et al. A giant early Pleistocene bird from eastern Europe: unexpected component of terrestrial faunas at the time of early Homo arrival, Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology (2019). DOI: 10.1080/02724634.2019.1605521

Giant birds, comparable in size to elephant birds and moa, have never been reported from Europe. Here, we describe a femur from the lower Pleistocene of the north Black Sea area (Crimea) that is referred to Pachystruthio dmanisensis, comb. nov., a giant bird with an estimated body mass of about 450 kg. This value makes this extinct bird one of the largest known avians (comparable to Aepyornis maximus) and the only bird of such giant size in Europe and the Northern Hemisphere in general. In contrast to very large insular birds, Pachystruthio dmanisensis was a good runner, which may be explained by its coexistence with large carnivoran mammals. Pachystruthio dmanisensis and associated assemblage of fossil mammals are shared with the Dmanisi locality in Georgia (∼1.8–1.7 Ma); thus, this giant bird was likely a typical component of eastern European faunas at the time of early hominin arrival. We suggest that Pachystruthio dmanisensis, together with early Homo and a variety of mammals, reached the northern Black Sea region via the southern Caucasus and Anatolia, because the older (Pliocene) finds of this fauna are known from Georgia and Turkey.
[Image: wildcat10-CougarHuntingDeer.jpg]
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