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A mature Gastornis holds her prey whilst pacing along the lakeside

GASTORNISEdit

Gastornis, meaning 'Gaston's Bird', was a large, possibly carnivorous genus of flightless bird.

GASTORNIS

Name Meaning

Gaston's Bird

Size

1.75 metres tall

Weight

Up to 500 kilograms

Diet

Probably Carnivorous - an active predator

Habitat

Dense Woodland and Rainforest, of which kind was prevailent in the Early-Mid Eocene Epoch

Time

56-41 Million Years Ago (Late Palaeocene-Early Eocene Epoch)

Evidence

A particularly well recorded Neognath Bird, from the sites of Geiseltal, Messel and those in the USA


Living during the Early Eocene Epoch mainly, though possibly originating from the depths of the Late Palaeocene Epoch, Gastornis was probably one of the apex predators that ruled over the plethora of small animals that had survived the K-T Extinction of 65 MYA. Gastornis was over 1.75 metres tall (5 feet 9 inches) and stood on two powerful and muscular, scaly legs. These birds were shadows of the Dinosaurs in themselves, being descendants of the great reptiles. Heavily built and easily one of the largest animals around at the time, Gastornis could well have been a top predator, using the large 'hatchet' beak to litera lly c rush the bones in the bodies of small mammals. However, some scientists speculate that this could be a beak designed for crushing nuts and tough vegetation instead. In turn, it is argued that such a large bird could not possibly sustain itself on such poor grade food. It is widely agreed that Gastornis was predatory. Found in the famous German sites of Messel (The Messel Shales), and Geiseltal, they have also been found in similar sites in the USA. This great Neognath Bird, was probably an ambush predator, which specialised in hunting the small horse s and such in the dark forest and jungle world of the Late Palaeocene and Early Eocene, 56-41 MYA.

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