from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A group of extinct flightless birds, of the family Phorusrhacidae, from the Cenozoic period who inhabited South America


Sorry, no etymologies found.


  • The image, depicting the controversial North American phorusrhacid Titanis, has been kindly provided by my good friend Carl Buell who has, I am very pleased to say, recently started blogging again after a very long absence.

    Goodbye, my giant predatory, cursorial, flightless hoatzin

  • In the previous post we looked briefly at phorusrhacid diversity, stopping on the way to look at the discovery and naming of that ‘well known’ species Phorusrhacos longissimus from the Miocene of Argentina.

    Archive 2006-11-01

  • The biggest brontornithine, Brontornis burmeisteri from the Miocene of Argentina, was also arguably the biggest phorusrhacid prior to the discovery of BAR 3877-11, but its leg bones are immensely wide and stocky for their length, and its tarsometatarsi are between 50 and 60% the length of its tibiotarsi.

    Archive 2006-11-01

  • This latter bird (significant in being the youngest phorusrhacid from South America) was one of the largest members of the group, with an estimated height of c.

    More on phorusrhacids: the biggest, the fastest, the mostest out-of-placest

  • The ‘best known’ phorusrhacid, the one featured in every single prehistoric animal book, is Phorusrhacos longissimus from the Miocene of Argentina.

    Terror birds

  • The various phorusrhacid genera and species have been reviewed twice in the past 50 years.

    Terror birds

  • There is lots more to say: I am planning also to blog about phorusrhacid skull and hand anatomy, and about their alleged survival into near-modern times.

    Archive 2006-11-01

  • What is almost certainly a non-American phorusrhacid was reported in 1987 … from the Eocene of Antarctica (Case et al. 1987).

    More on phorusrhacids: the biggest, the fastest, the mostest out-of-placest

  • Both lived alongside New World vultures, flamingos, screamers and caviomorph rodents [the adjacent photo, of the brontornithine Paraphysornis, is borrowed from Cais de Gaia's phorusrhacid blog post].

    Archive 2006-11-01

  • Speaking of Phorusrhacos, the painting at top - depicting this taxon - is one of the most famous phorusrhacid renditions ever (it's borrowed from the Burian gallery), and was produced by one of the 20th century's greatest palaeo-artists, Zdenek Burian (1905-1981).

    Terror birds


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  • The strings -usrh- and -srha- in this (fossil) bird word must be pretty rare.

    October 12, 2011