Giant Eocene bird was 'gentle herbivore', study finds
By Michelle Warwicker BBC Nature
Footprints believed to have been made by the giant bird Diatryma indicate that it was a "gentle herbivore" and not a fierce carnivore, scientists say. A team of researchers from Washington, US, examined tracks uncovered in a landslide in 2009.Previous investigations have suggested the giant bird was a carnivorous predator or scavenger. But the absence of raptor-like claws in the footprints supports the theory that Diatryma was not a meat-eater. Measuring 7ft (2.13m) tall and with a huge head and beak, the giant flightless bird Diatryma (believed by some experts to belong to the genus Gastornis) is commonly portrayed as a fierce predator in both scientific works and popular media. The animal is frequently thought as "the bird that replaced dinosaurs as the top predator", said geologist and team member George Mustoe, from Western Washington University in Bellingham, US.
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