A huge flightless bird that lived 53 million years ago once ruled the Arctic, a new study has found.
Scientists have just discovered the existence of a massive flightless bird that once roamed the Arctic.
Researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the University of Colorado Boulder have published a study in the journal Scientific Reports that found that two birds, Gastornis and Presbyornis, probably lived in the Arctic some 53 million years ago, according to a Christian Science Monitor report.
They didn’t exactly find complete skeletons — scientists have only discovered a toe bone from Gastornis, which matches the toe bones of another Gastornis skeleton found in Wyoming. It’s the only indication that Gastornis lived so far north. The toe bone looked exactly like the one from the skeleton in Wyoming, amazing scientists.
Gastornis was likely quite the site, standing six feet tall and weighing hundreds of pounds, with a head the size of a horse’s. And the bird was most likely vegan, eating leaves, seeds, and fruits.
Meanwhile, the discovery of Presbyornis bone, which came from the upper wing, was also an important find. Scientists believe Presbyornis was significantly smaller than Gastornis and probably resembled a modern goose.
The fossils were found on Ellesmere Island, officially a part of Canada to the west of Greenland. It is one of the coldest places in the world, dipping as low as negative degrees Fahrenheit — but it would have been much warmer during the time of these ancient birds 53 million years ago. It was probably more like Florida around that time.
The findings are important not just for the fossil record, but it could also educate us on how climate change is likely to affect the coldest places in the world in the coming decades.