Bones of an ancient eagle hunting koalas found in Australia
Scientists from Flinders University announced the discovery of a new species of eagle-like predators. They examined fossils from 63 bones found near Pinpa Lake, Historical Biology reports.
Analysis showed that the remains belonged to a previously unknown bird that lived 25 million years ago. It was a large, predatory eagle that was at the top of the food chain and attacked flamingos and koalas. It was given the scientific name Archahierax sylvestris.
Scientists noted that this is one of the oldest eagle-like ones. The remains are very well preserved, which made it possible to appreciate the appearance of the bird.
“This species was slightly smaller and slender than the wedge-tailed eagle (the largest living Australia), but it is the largest eagle that lived at that time on the continent,” – said in the text of the scientific work.
The study also showed that Archahierax did not belong to any living genus or family. It was a unique branch of the eagle family. Scientists believe that this eagle cannot be the direct ancestor of any of the living birds.
In the late Oligocene, when Archahierax sylvestris lived, the nature of Australia looked completely different. Lake Pinpa, now a dry desert, was a vast, shallow body of water surrounded by dense forests 25 million years ago.
Scientists noted that the eagle had short wings that did not allow for fast flight, but unusually long legs. They suggested that he hunted from an ambush, pouncing on prey (koalas, possums, waterfowl, cormorants and flamingos) and holding it with its clawed paws.
The span of the paws was about 15 centimeters. The largest mammals in Australia at the time were the size of a small dog and were virtually defenseless against Archahierax sylvestris.
Earlier it was reported that an unusual dinosaur was found in Morocco. He possessed bone spines that grew directly from his ribs.