Monday, July 8, 2013

The Demon Duck of Doom

I really can’t top that phrasing, so it’s the post title. How this isn’t yet a band name, a book title or the next summer blockbuster, I have no idea. But here, check this out:

Above  you see the skull of the Bullockornis panei, a bird species that lived 15 million years ago in what we now call Australia but would then have been called the worst place to live ever. You see, this member of the Dromornithidae (“swift-running birds”) class of megafauna, according to Wikipedia, would have stood eight feet, two inches tall and would have weighed up to 550 pounds. More disturbingly, this article says that paleontologists think the large beak indicates the Demon Duck of Doom ate meat. A quote from Dr. Steve Wroe from the Australian Museum: “My hunch is that it ate plant material, but also significant amounts of meat — it was formidable enough that it could have eaten whatever it wanted.” Hence the rather evocative nickname.

As someone still scarred by childhood memories of charging golf course water traps with thoughts of chasing ducks and geese only to immediately be deterred by an onslaught of hissing, flapping, honking and beak-snapping, I must say that this is the worst news I’ve heard lately. Fifteen million years isn’t barrier enough.

(This nightmare is brought to you via Spencer and his knowledge of beastmonsters, ultimately from this Atlantic article.)

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