Period of life: 60 MYA
Habitat: Forests, bushlands
Length: 2-3 m
Gastornis is a large flightless bird inhabited North America, Asia and Europe about 60 million years ago. Gastornis belongs to extinct Diatryma genus. As the birds built their nests on the ground, the predators sneaked it easily and pinched the eggs. First fossils were discovered in 1855 by French physicist Gaston Planté hence the name of the ancient bird.
Gastornis was 1.75 metres tall and weighed about 100 kilograms. Its body was covered with dense plant feather-like fibers. The bird had massive skull with a large beak. The beak size sparkled many debates on animal diet. Some scientists suggested it was carnivorous creature. Others insisted that due to lack of predatory features such as hooked beak like that of eagles or vultures, Gastornis could use its large beak only for digging roots or cracking nuts and seeds. High calcium isotopes found in the bones of Gastornis remains indicated its herbivorous nature. Obviously, predators had much less calcium isotopes in its bones.
Despite it had wings resembled cassowary ones, Gastornis was unable to fly. It could run fast though due to its strong legs.
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