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Life size terror bird goes on show in Vienna

The last time this prehistoric monster known as the Paraphysornis or "terror bird" walked the earth was 25 million ago.

But now after more than 800 hours of painstaking reconstruction using an almost complete fossil of an extinct Paraphysornis, scientists have managed to recreate how it looked by producing a full-feathered life-size model.

The terror bird was unable to fly, but was nevertheless one of the ancient ancestors of the modern birds and it is now on show at Vienna's National History Museum in the Austrian capital.

Although it couldn't fly it had little to fear from contemporaries and was able to use its massive beak to ensure its place in the prehistoric food chain.

Capable of growing up to a height of 3 meters the carnivorous Paraphysornis and its relatives first roamed the earth around 60 million years ago and it was probably still present around 17,000 years ago, according to experts.

And although this monster no longer exists in the XL size it still has a distant relative to be found in South America, although the survivor has a lot to live up to – as it rarely grows above 90 centimetres. The feathers for the monster copy were also supplied by the terror birds relatives in South America.

Museum spokeswoman Ursula Göhlich said: "Worldwide this is the first ever model of a terror bird in the original size and it was recreated by zoologists in our own research centre. Staff invested around 800 hours to reconstruct how it would have looked from a complete skeleton."

Vienna Times

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