Argentine fossil points to largest bird ever found

“Fearsome creature that roamed prehistoric Patagonia was 10 feet tall with a skull larger than a horse’s.”

Robert Lee Hotz in the Los Angeles Times:

Screenhunter_5_6A curious teenager in Argentina has discovered the fossil skull of the biggest bird ever found — a swift, flightless predator 10 feet tall that pursued its prey across the steppes of Patagonia 15 million years ago, researchers at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County announced Wednesday.

The skull, tapering to a cruel beak curved like a brush hook, belongs to a previously unknown offshoot of extinct birds known as phorusrhacids — “terror birds.”

Weighing perhaps 400 pounds, the bird most likely preyed on rodents the size of sheep that once grazed on the South American savanna.

“It is an unbelievable creature,” said paleontologist Luis Chiappe, director of the museum’s Dinosaur Institute, who documented the find in the journal Nature.

More here.