Books  Palaeontology  Palaeozoology & Extinctions 

Paleobiology of Giant Flightless Birds


By: Delphine Angst(Author), Eric Buffetaut(Author)

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

ISTE Press

Hardback | Nov 2017 | #234718 | ISBN-13: 9781785481369
Availability: In stock
NHBS Price: £134.00 $179/€152 approx

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

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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.

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