I’d like to take a moment to say that Gastornis as a herbivore would be a bloody monster.
It’s well established herbivores are more dangerous than carnivores; hippos are the most dangerous animal in Africa, deer attack hunters, blah blah blah, we all know this. Then take into account that Gastornis was an anseriform, making its closest living relatives ducks, geese and swans. Anybody who’s had experience with these birds knows just how bad-tempered and vicious they can be (especially swans), so transfer that sort of attitude to a giant, six foot tall anseriforme with a beak that can crush bones.
Picture yourself in the Eocene, when you stumble across a pair Gastornis and their goslings. The parents see you as a threat to their young, and start to approach you, hissing. You get the message and start to leave, but then the next thing you know they’re charging at you without warning and slam you to the ground, perhaps giving you a cassowary-style kick on the way down. That alone would do you damage, but they keep going. They’re trampling you, kicking you, and then comes the beaks. The beaks that break your arms and legs when they get a hold of them. Maybe you’ll get lucky and one grabs your head and crushes it like a coconut, or maybe they let you live instead, leaving you to get picked off by the phorusrhacids or terrestrial crocodiles.
Contrast this to the carnivorous Gastornis, which in the true carnivore fashion would spend most of its time doing nothing and probably just ignore you. Take your pick.
I’m pretty sure Galloanserae in general are the spawn of Satan instead of dinosaurs.
thylacines and dodo from the leeds museum!
OH YEAH I SAW REAL LIFE THYLACINE SKULLS i’ll upload photos
- by Cícero Moraes
“In this post I’ll talk about my little adventure to reconstruct the face of this specie. This work is a type of continuation of Taung Project, because the knowledge used there was tapped here, with some increase of the technic. I have to thank to Moacir Elias Santos, a Brazilian archaeologist that took a serie of pictures of a cast skull on Museu Egipcio e Rosacruz.
The skull used was reconstructed with PPT GUI (scanning by picture). To increase the quality of the reconstruction, I used a CT-Scan of a chimpanzee. The skull of chimp was deformed using Lattice modifier on Blender 3D, until match with the Australopithecus skull. Obviously, the skin was deformed too. After this, I used the reference of the deformed skin to modeling the final face.”
While not so huge as the largest non-avian dinosaurs, Gastornis was nevertheless a giant in its Paleocene and Eocene heyday between 55 and 40 million years ago. In Europe the bird towered over the mammals who inhabited the same forests – the largest herbivores and carnivores of the day were about the size of a German shepherd, with many being considerably smaller. (In North America, where Gastornis fossils were previously labeled “Diatryma“, some of the contemporary herbivorous mammals grew to bigger sizes, but there were still many smaller beasts running about.) So it seemed only natural that the monstrous bird would have preyed on the scurrying mammals, pouncing on “dawn horses” and cleaving lemur-like primates in two with it’s powerful beak. In museums and documentaries, Gastornis marked the last gasp of dinosaur dominance before mammals took over the world.
But recent research has found that Gastornis wasn’t so terrifying, after all. While a 1991 paper concluded that the bird’s beak could have made short work of many small mammals, other publications pointed out that such a beak would have been just as well-suited to cracking seeds and crunching tough fruit. More recently, tracks of Gastornis – née “Diatryma” – found in Washington show that the bird had blunted toes rather than vicious talons, and a preliminary study of dietary clues preserved in the bones of a German specimen of the bird suggested a menu of plants rather than flesh. And now paleontologist Delphine Angst and colleagues have added another line of evidence that Gastornis probably wasn’t a rapacious mammal-muncher.
Chemical signatures in the extinct bird’s bones are at the center of the Naturwissenschaften study. Angst and coauthors studied carbon isotope (δ13C) traces in the bones of Gastornis, small herbivorous mammals the bird lived alongside, and modern hawks and ostriches. This isotope acts as a proxy for diet. Generated inside plants, the carbon isotope becomes preserved in the tissues of herbivores that eat those greens and, further down the line, in the tissues of the carnivores that consume those herbivores. Locked in bones and teeth, this carbon isotope allows paleontologists to outline what individual animals were consuming and how they may have split up resources in the same habitat….
When Angst and coauthors looked at the carbon isotope through the lens of Gastornis being an herbivore, however, the signature was a better match and was comparable to those of herbivorous mammals living at the same time. The bird’s carbon isotope profile was that of an avian that crushed seeds and crunched thick-skinned fruit.
And the researchers went a step further. Through dissections of modern birds ranging from Darwin’s finches to Eurasian sparrowhawks, Angst and colleagues studied the anatomy and connection points of the external adductor muscle in modern herbivorous and carnivorous birds. This is a major muscle that powers bird bites, and the herbivorous, seed-cracking birds typically had wider muscles with increased space for attachment on the lower jaw. That fits they way they feed. Much more power is needed to bust open hard fruits than to tear soft flesh.
The actual muscles of Gastornis rotted away over 40 million years ago, but the bird’s lower jaw shows a wide space for the external adductor muscle to attach. Taken together, the bird’s beak, feet, reconstructed musculature, and chemical signature best fit a large herbivore that snacked on plants rather than the mammals that lived underfoot.
(Read more at Phenomena: Laelaps)
T-Rex #dinosaur #skeleton #trex #pittsburgh (at Carnegie Museum Of Natural History)