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Paleobiology of Giant Flightless Birds (1 Viewer)

Fred Ruhe

Well-known member
Delphine Angst and Eric Buffetaut, 2017

Paleobiology of Giant Flightless Birds

281 pages, b/w photos, b/w illustrations, b/w distribution maps.

Hardback | Nov 2017 | ISBN-13: 9781785481369

About this book

Paleobiology of Giant Flightless Birds reviews what is known of the palaeobiology of various groups of giant flightless birds that lived at different periods of the geological past, from a few hundred years ago to the late Cretaceous, some 70 million years ago. They include the moas of New Zealand and the elephant birds of Madagascar, the dromornithids of Australia, the terror birds of South America, the gastornithids of Laurasia, and Gargantuavis from Europe.

Their biology, ecology, and extinction are reconstructed on the basis of evidence from sources, ranging from palaeontology to functional morphology, geochemistry, and ancient DNA. The giant flightless birds of the past have attracted the attention of both palaeontologists and the general public since the 19th century, and recent investigations have resulted in considerable advances in our understanding of the biology and ecological of these unusual birds.

The authors summarize what is currently known about the various ways in which these flightless birds adapted to terrestrial environments in different parts of the world at different periods of geological time.


1. Introduction: giant birds in time and space
2. Dinornithiformes: the moas of New Zealand
3. Aepyornithidae: the “elephant birds” of Madagascar
4. Sylviornis: the giant bird of New Caledonia
5. Dromornithidae: the Australian Mihirungs
6. Phorusrhacidae: the “Terror Birds” of South America
7. Brontornithidae: the “Thunder Birds” of South America
8. Gastornithidae: Early Tertiary giants of Laurasia
9. Gargantuavis: an enigmatic giant bird among the dinosaurs
10. Conclusions: the various ways of becoming a giant flightless bird


Delphine Angst is a PhD researcher. Between 2011-2014, she was undertaking her Ph.D. in the Geology Laboratory of Lyon's Earth Planet and Environment Lab, University Claude Bernard Lyon 1 Ecole Normale Supérieure de Lyon, under the supervision of Christophe Lecuyer, Eric Buffetaut and Romain Amiot. Between 2009-2011, she completed her Master in Systematic Evolution Paléobiodiversité (MS) in the Natural History Museum of Paris.

Eric Buffetaut is research director at the National Scientific Research Centre (CNRS), assigned to the Ecole Normale Supérieure in Paris. A vertebrate paleontology specialist, he worked first on fossil crocodiles, before turning to dinosaurs, primitive birds and pterosaurs, groups that now constitute his main research topics. The major mass extinctions that have punctuated the history of living beings, and extraterrestrial causes of some of them, are also among the topics on which he works. His interests also include the history of Earth Sciences.




Well-known member
The figures in the book are black and white. But here you can find the coloured version:

http://iste.co.uk/angst/birds.zip (Winzip or a similar programme is required)

I've my copy since Christmas Eve. The most interesting group for me is Phorusrhacidae and I've never thought that is was such a diverse family with many species and birds that had heights from 80 cm to almost 300 cm.
Last edited:

Fred Ruhe

Well-known member
The most interesting group for me is Phorusrhacidae and I've never thought that is was such a diverse family with many species and birds that had heights from 80 cm to almost 300 cm.

Yes, I have 26 species in around 5 subfamilies, not counting Walbeckornis, Gradiornis, Bathornithidae, Ameghornithidae, Qianshanornithidae, Idiornithidae, Cariamidae and Brontornithidae, all thought to be related to the Phorusrhacidae, but I do not know whether Angst and Buffetaut comment on these groups, as I did not receive my copy yet.


Fred Ruhe

Well-known member
There is a review by Gerald Mayr, an expert on Paleogene birds, to be pubished in Acta Zoologica. If you want a copy of this review, contact me.

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