Giant flightless land birds as tall as 13' called "Moas"
(Dinornithidae "terrible birds" giganteus)
by the Maori, who lived on the savannahs and forest fringes of New Zealand
and surrounding islands.
Several skeletons are on display in museums in New Zealand
and Europe. Moa bones lack a humeri, upper arm-bones, the last trace of
wings. There were several families and species of moa, some giants,
some the size of chickens. Some of the moas had four toes to the foot, and
The pale green Moa eggs measured 10 inches (24 cm) long and 7 inches (18 cm)
Except for the Haast's Eagle, another extinct giant, the Moa had no predators and became the dominant species in
extraordinary numbers and variety (twenty species, six genera) during its
100 million year existence in the isolated islands. While some accounts say
that Moas were extinct before Europeans discovered the islands in 1770, or
shortly after, others tell of later isolated sightings.
Elephant birds lived on Madagascar until
their extinction in the 17th century. Sightings in Madagascar were recorded
as late at the 1640s and 1650s.
Aepyornis was the largest bird in the world at that time standing 10 feet tall and weighing almost 900 lbs.
Remains of eggs have been found that measure more than a foot long and 3 feet in circumference.
Marco Polo may have encountered Elephant
Birds in the 12th Century. Descriptions recorded in his travels are believed
to describe elephant birds.
Diatrymas were another large bird which you would
not have been able to outrun, however, it is uncertain whether they were herbivores or carnivores. With that beak you would run regardless.
It may have been used to crack nuts or to rip flesh.
They grew to 6 feet tall and weighed more than 200 lbs. They lived about 60 million years ago in North America and Europe
Extanichthyornis victor was a 9" to 10" long seabird
and was the first prehistoric bird discovered with teeth. It lived around 90
million years ago during the Late Cretaceous and its fossil remains have
been discovered in numerous places in the great plains of North America.
Diving Marine Bird, Hesperornis
This is another illustrated version of the Great Toothed
Diver, Hesperornis regalis, an extinct five foot long diving bird that lived
during the Cretaceous period - with teeth! Hesperornis regalis did not have
wings, but propelled itself with powrful hind legs and lobed toes similar to
the grebes of today. Hesperornis regalis lived in the prehistoric North Sea,
the West Siberian Sea, and the Great American Inland Sea, preyed upon fish,
crustaceans, cephalopods and mollusks and were preyed upon by Mosasaurs.
Archaeopteryx was discovered in the 1800s around the
Solnhofen area of Germany in limestone which was deposited at the bottom of
lagoons during the Late Jurassic, about 150 million years ago.