Extinct `terror bird` fought like Muhammad Ali

Last Updated: Saturday, August 21, 2010 - 13:22

Washington: Scientists have claimed that an extinct "terror bird", which lived mainly in South America, used an agile, attack-and-retreat combat style like former US boxer and three-time World Heavyweight Champion Muhammad Ali.
Andalgalornis could not fly but it stood 1.4 metres tall, weighed 40 kilogrammes and had an unusually large, rigid skull and hawk-like hooked beak: it would have avoided close combat and used hatchet-like jabs to take down its prey, the scientists reported in the `PLoS ONE` journal.

"We found that this terror bird was well-adapted to drive in its deep, narrow beak then pull back with that wickedly recurved tip. As a heavyweight, its fighting style was more like that of a bobbing, weaving Muhammad Ali than a Joe Frazier wading into the fray and slugging it out," said Dr Stephen Wroe, who led an international team.

They have based their findings on a study of stresses in the skull of the Andalgalornis, using computer modelling.

Working with a complete fossil skull of the creature, which lived six million years ago in north-western Argentina, the scientists used CT scanning and advanced engineering methods to examine its form, function and predatory behaviour.

In fact, the scientists applied engineering approaches called Finite Element Analysis to test the performance of the skull under different simulated feeding behaviours.


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First Published: Saturday, August 21, 2010 - 13:22

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