Andors, Allison V. Department of Ornithology, American Museum of Natural History, New York, New York.
Buffetaut, Eric Centre National de la Recherche Scientifque, Paris, France.
Last reviewed:January 2020
- Mode of life
- Fossil record and classification
- Resemblance to modern birds
- Related Primary Literature
- Additional Reading
An order of extinct flightless birds known from Paleocene and Eocene deposits in North America, Europe, and Asia. Members of the order Gastornithiformes (gastornithiforms) are believed to have dispersed across the North Atlantic via a land bridge when those continents were connected in the Eocene. These creatures were giant birds, reaching 2 m (6.6 ft) in height. Anatomically, they had large heads, huge laterally compressed bills, broad cervical vertebrae, wide pelves, massive legs with relatively short tarsi and heavy toes (suggestive of a slow-moving gait), and reduced wings that were evidently too short to permit flight. See also: Aves; Extinction (biology)
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