This species belonged to a group called the terror birds.
Meaning of scientific name
Pronunciation of scientific name
Phorusrhacos was a huge, lightly-built bird with a fearsome beak. A recent discovery in North America suggests that they also had claws on their wings, which is unusual, although it is not clear how these would have been used.
Only partial fossils of Phorusrhacos have been found such as those at Monte Hermoso in Argentina, but recent finds of its North American form, Titanis, in Texas and Florida are beginning to complete the picture.
They inhabited woodlands and grasslands.
They were carnivorous - eating small mammals and any carcasses it could find.
Being so lightly built, with long legs and a huge beak, Phorusrhacos was probably a fast-running predator. Its modern relatives, the seriemas, kill their prey by smashing it repeatedly against the ground, which may have been Phorusrhacos' technique as well.
North American specimens of Phorusrhacos are known as Titanis, but they are thought to be the same and all Titanis specimens may soon be renamed Phorusrhacos.
They lived 27 million - 15,000 years ago. Phorusrhacos belongs to a group called the Terror Birds. The earliest known Terror bird, Aenigmavis, is found in the Messel deposits of Germany 49 million years ago, but it was only the size of a modern chicken and was not related to the giant bird Gastornis, which dominated the forests of that time. However, in South America, Aenigmavis. descendants became huge and became the continent's top predator for millions of years.
Best place to see
Natural History Museum; Ipswich Museums Service
South American seriema birds.