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And then, of course, there are the native predators.

Walking with Beasts: Sabre Tooth

Phorusrhacos, commonly known as a Terror Bird, was a large, flightless bird from the Pliocene to the Pleistocene. It was the top predator of its region until other predators from North America migrated to South America.

Physical appearance and biology

Phorusrhacos was a large, carnivorous bird. It possessed a large beak which was hooked at the tip, like a modern eagle. At the top of its head was a small plumage of feathers.

This bird, since it was flightless, had only small wings that were unable to lift it into the air. However, unlike most modern birds, it possessed a sharp claw on the wings, making them into potential weapons against prey and rivals.

The legs of Phorusrhacos were skinny and long. On its feet were sharp talons.

In Walking with Beasts, Phorusrhacos had a white neck and underbelly. The rest of its feathers were brown. Its beak and legs were a vivid red color. It also had some black display feathers on its head. 

Behavior and traits

Phorusrhacos was a member of a lineage of carnivorous flightless birds commonly nicknamed "terror birds". This name is derived from their metabolism and weapons.

Its most lethal and formidable weapon was its large beak. Unlike modern flightless birds like ostriches, its head and beak were large. At the end of its beak was a sharp hook, similar to that of modern birds of prey. This deadly weapon was most likely used to puncture the head of its prey and to cause major brain damage. The shock of the impact would instantly kill it.

Although the first terror birds appeared on the planet back in the Eocene, Phorusrhacos and its relatives belonged to a different family than the Gastornis, also featured in Walking with Beasts.

In Walking with Beasts

Sabre Tooth

A pair of Phorusrhacos chased a Smilodon cub. The birds managed to trip up the cub but unfortunately for the terror birds, Half-Tooth appeared and warded off the attackers of his cub. The pair later stood by a herd of grazing Macrauchenia.

After a pride of Smilodon performed a successful kill on a Macrauchenia, a flock of Phorusrhacos appeared from the surrounding woodland. Whilst most of the birds stood far away from the cats, one stole a slab of meat from the carcass and the rest of the birds flocked around the carrion. When the Smilodon left, the Phorusrhacos fed on the remaining scraps.

After another successful kill by the Smilodon pride, the Phorusrhacos waited for the cats to have their sitting.

Whilst a now-solitary Half-Tooth stalked a mother Macrauchenia and her child, a Phorusrhacos quickly rushed from the woods and swiftly killed the juvenile. Unfortunately for the terror bird, Half-Tooth warded it off and claimed the carcass.

After a fight between Half-Tooth and one of The Brothers, a pair of Phorusrhacos fed on the corpse of the brother who died as a result of the fight.

Other appearances

Phorusrhacos appears in the Battle of the Beasts online game where it is a playable fighter or its parts could be used to create an entirely new creature.

Behind the scenes

In The Complete Guide to Prehistoric Life, it states that Phorusrhacos' closest living relative is the secretary bird. This claim is false. The modern Seriema birds of South America are the closest living relatives of the terror birds, being members of the same order, Cariamae.

Phorusrhacos never lived during the Pliocene and Pleistocene. It actually lived during the Miocene. However, the only phorusrhacid with those attributes is Titanis, and it was believed to have been another species of Phorusrhacos at first.[1]

Phorusrachos had a shorter neck than how it is depicted in Generation 1 of Walking with...

Stock footage of Phorusrachos was reused in the Animal Planet series The Most Extreme in the episode Awesome Ancestors.

List of appearances

Notes and references

  1. Prehistoric Wildlife - Titanis

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