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Press Release 10-145

Ancient "Terror Bird" Used Powerful Beak to Jab Like Boxer

Researchers use computer modeling to reconstruct kills of prehistoric predator

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Illustration of the terror bird Andalgalornis bringing its powerful beak down to kill prey.

The terror bird Andalgalornis brings its powerful beak down in a hatchet-like jab to kill prey.

Credit: Marcos Cenizo


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Skull of the terror bird Andalgalornis, an extinct flightless predatory bird found in Argentina.

The terror bird Andalgalornis, an extinct flightless predatory bird found as a fossil in Argentina.

Credit: Witmer Lab


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Front view of the skull of the  terror bird, a six-million-year old, 4.5-feet-tall predatory bird.

Eye-to-eye with the terror bird, a six-million-year old, 4.5-feet-tall fossil predatory bird.

Credit: Witmer Lab


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Fossil skull of the terror bird compared with the skull of a modern-day golden eagle for scale.

Fossil skull of the terror bird compared with the skull of a modern-day golden eagle for scale.

Credit: Witmer Lab


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CT scan of the skull of the terror bird where gray is the fossil and lavender is rock.

Skull of the terror bird, based on a CT scan. Gray is the fossil; lavender is rock.

Credit: Witmer Lab


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Simulation of stresses in the skull of the terror bird that occur when biting into prey.

Simulation of stresses in the skull of the terror bird that occur when biting into prey.

Credit: Museo de La Plata and University of New South Wales


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Images showing simulation of feeding behavior with lower stresses in blue, higher in red.

Each image is a simulation of feeding behavior; lower stresses are in blue, higher in red.

Credit: Museo de La Plata and University of New South Wales


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Simulation of stresses that happen when holding onto prey with the beak tip and pulling back.

Simulation of stresses that happen when holding onto prey with the beak tip and pulling back.

Credit: Museo de La Plata and University of New South Wales


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