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November 21 2012

Eocene Big Bird Not so Scary, After All


The reign of the dinosaurs came to a catastrophic end 66 million years ago. That’s the common trope, anyway – a holdover from before we recognized that at least one feathery lineage survived and proliferated after the K/Pg devastation. We still live in the Age of Dinosaurs – a 230 million year old success story carried on by modern birds.

Still, even today’s birds seem to pale in comparison to their long-lost relatives. In the Eocene world that emerged from the vestiges of the Late Cretaceous, giant avian dinosaurs left their mark on the landscape. I mean that literally. In the latest issue of Palaeontology, Western Washington University paleontologist George Mustoe and co-authors present a set of several 53 million year old tracks made by an enormous bird that once strode across North America.

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