Gastornis (often known as "Diatryma")
is a genus of large flightless birds that lived from
the late Paleocene epoch to the middle Eocene epoch, between
about 56 million and 45 million years ago.
these birds have been found in a number of countries in
as well as in the
Gastornis was upto about 6½ feet (2 meters) tall, and had a huge beak
with a hooked top, and powerful legs. It is not certain what type of feathers
it had, but it is thought that it may have had hair-like feathers similar
to modern ratites.
There has been much debate about Gastornis' diet. Its beak seems to suggest
it was a predator - if this was the case it probably hunted in packs or
was an ambush hunter, since it may not have been particularly agile,
particularly since the areas in which it lived were covered with dense
forests. Alternatively, it is also possible that Gastornis
may have been a scavenger, omnivore, or even a herbivore (plant-eater).
of the genus were found near
by Gaston Planté in 1855 (Planté later became famous for his
achievements in physics, including inventing the lead-acid battery),
who named the bird "Gastornis" (Gaston's bird).
In the 1870s,
Edward D. Cope
found another set of
the United States,
and named the animal "Diatryma".
When it was subsequently
realized that these were both specimens of the same animal, the
first name chosen takes priority, and hence the correct name of the animal
is in fact Gastornis.
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