Science

7 extinct birds that were extremely metal

Early Earth was full of terrifying birds.

Here are seven from ancient history that you won't see on your next birding trip.

And maybe that's a good thing.

Tongoenas burleyi

Giant pigeon

Danielle Byerley

T. burleyi could swallow fruit up to the size of a tennis ball whole — despite being rather small.

It was about the size of a duck and lived in tree canopies.

Here's a specimen housed at the Florida Museum.

Primoptynx poliotaurus

Owl that hunted like a hawk

Fossils show that this owl used its claws and feet to kill medium-sized mammals some 55 million years ago.

Modern owls kill prey with their beaks.

The skeleton of Primoptynx poliotaurusSenckenberg Research Institute

Pelagornis sandersi

Simply a massive bird.

Liz Bradford

Liz Bradford

P. sandersi was the largest-ever flying bird to live, with an impressive wingspan between 20 and 24 feet long.

That's twice as large as today's biggest, the Royal Albatross.

Brontornis burmeisteri

The flightless "terror bird."

This terrifying bird stood more than nine feet tall, as shown by its massive fossilized bones.

It would ambush and actively chase its prey.

Museum display featuring Brontornis burmeisteri.Cowtools/Flickr

Grus pentelici

Crane with a ridiculously long beak

Shutterstock

This crane had two "striking" characteristics: Being big and having an incredibly long beak.

Its skull fragments are truly remarkable. >>

Skull fragment of the large crane.Mayr et. al., 2020

Titanis walleri

Another "terror bird."

The large, predatory bird stood around five feet tall.

It lived in present-day Florida and is the only confirmed terror bird from North America.

Here's a museum display of Titanis walleri.

Panraogallus hezhengensis

Ancient pheasant with a bizarre, preserved windpipe.

A "hyper-elongated" windpipe helped this pheasant, discovered on the Tibetan Plateau in China, sing loudly and at low frequencies.

Coiled windpipe in preserved P. hezhengensis.Photo by LI Zhiheng and reconstruction by X. GUO at IVPP

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