As for feathered animals, Pachystruthio dmanisensis was a monster. An adult ostrich weighing 150 kg - the largest living bird in the world - will look like a canary next to it.
The remains of this bird were found on the northern coast of the Black Sea, which distinguishes it from all other birds of that time. It happened in the summer of 2018, when, due to road works, a cave was opened on the Crimean peninsula.
Among the finds, including mammoth bones, saber-toothed tigers, hyenas, horses, and even a small wolf, there was an unusual thigh that simply did not belong to animals known to science. The paleontologist of the Russian Academy of Sciences Nikita Zelenkov at first believed that the fossilized leg bone with its impressive weight should belong to the Malagasy elephant bird, but this was not so.
The found part is approximately equal to expected from the largest known feathered, but is thinner. Therefore, paleontologists suggested that they found the bone of a runner bird.
Scientists have determined that the growth of this bird is about 3.5 meters, so P. dmanisensis can be represented as a tall, slender elephant bird or a rather squat ostrich.
“We cannot say yet that this is the ancestor of an ostrich, but we know for sure that it weighed about 450 kilograms,” says Nikita Zelenkov.
This second is larger than a modern ostrich and is almost equal to an adult polar bear.
Researchers believe that the remains were buried between 1.5 and 2 million years ago.
The bones of Homo erectus, found almost there, are of the same age, which makes them more than likely relatives of our ancestors, not only sharing the territory with these birds, but possibly even hunting them. That is why P. dmanisensis has become a sprinter.
The discovery of a giant bird on a small peninsula helps us better understand not only the type of fauna that people could encounter, but also the environment itself.
In this case, we can speak of a drying landscape on the edge of the steppe, where ancient people and predators with long teeth looked for easy food in a quick-legged, oversized chicken.
Whether people are involved in the extinction of this species is too difficult to say at this stage. Paleontologists hope these are not the last bones of the “big ostrich” to ever be found.