A three-meter giant ostrich lived in Europe 1.8 million years ago

The fossil remains of a giant bird found in the Crimea were studied by a group of researchers from the Borissiak Paleontological Institute. The results confirm the enormous size of a bird lived during the Lower Pleistocene that had already been classified several years ago.

The research, published in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, describes the Pachystruthio dmanisensis, a huge bird more than three and a half meters high that could reach a weight of more than 1,000 pounds, according to the analysis that the scientists made on a piece of femur found and described as early as 1990. But then, the real dimensions of this animal were not understood, something made possible today thanks to the new findings.

It would be a giant ostrich that lived between 1.7 and 1.8 million years ago, and the first fly-less giant bird described in paleontology with regard to the northern hemisphere. The fossil has been unearthed from a cave in Taurida, a locality located in the Crimean peninsula. Inside the cave, discovered only in June last year during some works for a new motorway, some remains of mammoth bones and teeth have been discovered but the most interesting finding is probably that related to the Pachystruthio dmanisensis, a species of large terrestrial bird.

This is an important discovery because it is the first evidence that these gigantic prehistoric birds also lived in Europe. This giant bird boasted remarkable robustness and resembled very much its present-day relative, the ostrich, from which it differs, in addition to its larger dimensions, also to the shape of some surfaces of the body and to a slightly different morphology.

It was a good runner and certainly not easy prey for the giant cheetahs and saber-toothed cats with which it divided its territory. And as the landscape became increasingly arid, as time went on, its body also grew more and more so that the digestive tract could digest harder foods. The Pachystruthio dmanisensis probably also lived with the first Homo erectus who arrived in Europe during the Lower Pleistocene.

And this makes one suspect that it may have been humans who determined their extinction. Although it is soon to be said because the data are substantially very few, the evidence regarding the fact that the giant birds that lived up to 1-2 million years ago may have been hunted by humans and therefore may have become extinct for this reason are different and not concern only these remains.