The Call of the Terror Bird

When you think of a scary dinosaur, what comes to mind? The agile, sickle-clawed Utahraptor? A towering Tyrannosaurus? Something as alien as the croc-snouted, sail-backed Spinosaurus, perhaps? Books and museum halls are well-stocked with such Mesozoic nightmares, but scary dinosaurs have also stalked the land in the days after the end-Cretaceous mass extinction. There's an entire group of fossil dinosaurs - technically known as phorusrhacids - that are imposing enough that paleontologists often call them by a more evocative name. These were the terror birds.

There aren't any terror birds around today. The first evolved around 62 million years ago and the ...

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