kelenken

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Kelenken (named for a winged deity of local South American mythology) 

  • Temporal range: Middle Miocene, 15 Ma
  • Fossil location: Argentina 
  • Known species: K. guillermoi

This carnivorous giant was a member of the family Phorusrhacidae, a group informally (and quite fittingly) known as the “terror birds”. At 28 inches in length, it had the largest skull of any known bird; the beak alone accounted for 18 of those inches. From what little is known of its skeleton, Kelenken's height has been estimated at 7 to 10 feet and its weight at 300 to 500 pounds.

Kelenken's great size and ferocious appearance are thought to have helped the bird intimidate other animals, which would have been useful in driving away competition for scavenge. If it was an active hunter, it may have used its massive beak to bludgeon prey; for menu items that were more bite-sized, perhaps Kelenken snatched up the hapless animals in its beak and shook them violently, breaking their backs.

(Info sources: x x) (Photo sources: x x x)

The winged deity, Kelenken (2007)

Phylum : Chordata
Class : Aves
Order : Cariamiformes
Family : Phorusrhacidae
Genus : Kelenken
Species : K. guillermoi

  • Middle Miocene (15 Ma)
  • 2,5 m tall and 180 kg (size)
  • Argentina (map)

It is not entirely clear how Kelenken captured and killed its prey. As a large flightless carnivore, Kelenken likely chased down and killed its prey with several bone-shattering blows from its massive beak. Another possibility is that it may have picked up its prey item, then proceeded to shake it vigorously in order break its back. It is also possible that Kelenken may have been a scavenger, driving off other animals with its impressive size, and ferocious looks.

GIANT PREHISTORIC TERROR BIRD ACTUALLY PEACEFUL FRUIT-LOVING BEHEMOTH

GIANT PREHISTORIC TERROR BIRD ACTUALLY PEACEFUL FRUIT-LOVING BEHEMOTH

GIANT PREHISTORIC TERROR BIRD ACTUALLY PEACEFUL FRUIT-LOVING BEHEMOTH

First thing: TERROR BIRDS must be written in all caps and whenever you say it, you must squawk and raise your arms as if they were useless, tiny wings.

So what are TERROR BIRDS?

Imagine an ostrich. Only on steroids so it’s 10 feet tall, weighs 300 pounds, has a giant razor beak, and uh-oh it’s looking pretty hungry and then…

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I’ve got a little bit of a game going on for the “Mammoth is Mopey” Indiegogo effort. Every 10% we hit in our pursuit of $10,000 full funding, I am sharing a new character from the book! Here, you can see Opabinia regalis and Kelenken guillermoi.

We’re so close to 30%! In fact, if you pledge at the $150 level (receiving two books, a poster, and a print among other treats), you’ll push us past the mark and unlock the next character. Go ahead, see for yourself!