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Diatryma gigantea

OLogy Series
extinct animal
card
002

Diatryma gigantea

OLogy Series
extinct animal

This extinct bird grew as tall as a basketball player and weighed over 150 kilograms (330 pounds)! It also had heavy legs and tiny wings. Of course, this big bird couldn't fly. Diatryma fossils have been found in North America and Europe, from a time 10 million years after the extinction of most dinosaurs.

Diatryma's closest relatives living today are:

ostriches

ducks and geese

penguins

Are you right?

Correct!

Despite its gigantic bones, paleontologists believe that Diatryma is most closely related to ducks and geese.

Diatryma's beak is straight, not hooked. What did this dinosaur probably eat when it was alive?

meat

plants

no one knows

Are you right?

Correct!

We don't know for sure, but Diatryma's beak is similar to that of living, leaf-eating birds.

Paleontologists know that Diatryma is a bird because it has a fused tailbone.

Fact
or
Fiction
?

Fact

Diatryma has a short tail with joined vertebrae at the end. All ancient and modern birds have this feature.

Although Diatryma gigantea couldn't fly, its fossils suggest it was probably a speedy runner.

Fact
or
Fiction
?

Fiction

Diatryma was no roadrunner. Ostriches can sprint to 65 kilometers (40 miles) per hour, but this bird's weight and heavy legs made it much slower.

Scientific Name: Diatryma gigantea 
Pronunciation: die-uh-TRY-muh jy-GAN-tee-uh
Meaning: "double hole"
Locality Found: South Elk Creek, Big Horn Basin, Wyoming
Age: Early Eocene, 55 million years ago
Size: 2 meters (6.5 feet) tall
Characteristics: large-headed, flightless bird with short and heavy leg bones; beak indicates that Diatryma may have been a herbivore

Image credits: Rick Spears.