Giant bird that was 11.5 feet tall and weighed the same as a polar bear lived next to people in Europe two million years ago, study suggests
- Researchers from the Russian Academy of Sciences are behind the latest find
- They say the bird weighed 70 stones and was possibly hunted by early people
- Such birds were only thought to exist in Madagascar, New Zealand and Australia
- The bird was probably 11.5ft tall and would tower above early humans
A bird three times larger than an ostrich and the same weight as a full-grown polar bear once lived in Europe, according to a new study.
A chance discovery in a cave in Crimea suggests that early Europeans lived some 1.5 million years ago next to some of the largest birds that ever lived on earth.
Experts previously believed that such giant birds only ever existed on the islands of Madagascar and New Zealand and in Australia.
The newly discovered specimen found in Taurida Cave on the north coast of the Black Sea suggests a bird the size of the Madagascan elephant bird or New Zealand moa that once lived in Europe.
Scroll down for video
A bird three times larger than an ostrich and the same weight as an adult polar bear once lived in Europe, according to a new study
Researchers from the Russian Academy of Sciences say that it weighed around 70 stones (450 kg) and believe it may have been a source of meat, bones, feathers and an eggshell for early humans.
Main author Dr. Nikita Zelenkov said: “When I first felt the weight of the bird whose thigh bone was in my hand, I thought it should be a fossil of elephant oil birds because birds of this size were never reported from Europe.
& # 39; However, the structure of the bone has unexpectedly told a different story.
& # 39; We don't have enough data to say if it was closely related to ostriches or other birds, but we estimate it weighed around 450 pounds.
& # 39; This formidable weight is almost double the largest moa, three times the largest living bird, the common ostrich, and almost as much as an adult polar bear. & # 39;
It is the first time that a bird of this size is reported anywhere in the northern hemisphere.
Although the species was previously known, no one has ever attempted to calculate the size of the animal.
The flightless bird, attributed to the species Pachystruthio dmanisensis, was probably at least 11.5 feet (3.5 m) and would rise above early humans.
It might have been without lungs, but the researchers said it was fast.
A chance discovery in a cave in Crimea suggests that early Europeans lived some 1.5 million years ago next to some of the largest birds that ever lived on earth. Pictured: Aritist & # 39; s impression of the bird
Although elephant birds were bothered by their large size when it came to speed, Dr. Zelenkov said that the thigh of the bird found in the Crimea was relatively long and slender, suggesting it was a better runner.
The femur is similar to modern ostriches, as well as smaller types of moa and terror birds.
But speed may have been essential for the survival of the bird.
In addition to her bones, paleontologists found fossils of highly specialized, massive ice-eaters from the ice age.
They include giant cheetahs, giant hyenas and saber-toothed cats that were able to hunt mammoths.
Other fossils found alongside the monster, such as bison, help date it from 1.5 to 2 million years ago.
A similar number of fossils were discovered at an archaeological site in the city of Dmanisi in Georgia, the oldest hominine site outside of Africa.
WHEN HAVE HUMAN FORWARD FIRST BEAUTIFUL?
The timeline of human evolution can be traced back millions of years. Experts estimate that the family tree goes as follows:
55 million years ago – First primitive primates evolve
15 million years ago – Hominidae (great apes) evolve from the ancestors of the gibbon
7 million years ago – First gorillas evolve. Chimpanzee and human descent later diverge
A recreation of a Neanderthal is shown
5.5 million years ago – Ardipithecus, early & # 39; proto-human & # 39; stock features with chimpanzees and gorillas & # 39; s
4 million years ago – Monkeys like early humans, the Australopithecines appeared. They had brains no bigger than those of a chimpanzee, but other, more human traits
3.9-2.9 million years ago – Australoipithecus afarensis lived in Africa.
2.7 million years ago – Paranthropus, lived in forests and had huge jaws to chew
2.6 million years ago – Hand axes become the first major technological innovation
2.3 million years ago – Homo habilis first thought to have appeared in Africa
1.85 million years ago – The first & # 39; modern & # 39; hand appears
1.8 million years ago – Homo ergaster begins to appear in fossil record
800,000 years ago – Early people control fire and create fireplaces. The size of the brain is increasing rapidly
400,000 years agO – Neanderthals appear for the first time and spread across Europe and Asia
300,000 to 200,000 years ago – Homo sapiens – modern people – appear in Africa
50,000 to 40,000 years ago – Modern people reach Europe
Although previously neglected by science, this suggests that the gigantic bird may have been typical of the animals found at the time the first humanoids arrived in Europe.
The researchers suggest that it reached the Black Sea region via the South Caucasus and Turkey.
They said that animals with a larger body mass have lower metabolic requirements and can therefore use less nutritious food growth in open steppes.
Dr. Zelenkov added: & # 39; The cave network of Taurida was only discovered last summer when a new highway was built.
& # 39; Last year, mammoth remains were excavated and there may be much more that the site will teach us about Europe's distant past. & # 39;
The full findings of the study are published in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.
. (TagsToTranslate) Dailymail (t) sciencetech (t) new zealand