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Creature of the Week #11: Kelenken

  • 03-02-2010 11:43pm
    Registered Users Posts: 30,747 Galvasean

    Kelenken guillermoi is the largest known phorusrhacid (or 'terror bird' as they are popularly known). Standing at an impressive 10 feet (3 meters) tall and weiging about 300 pounds. It lived in the middle of the Miocene some 15 million years ago in Argentina.
    Left to right; Kelenken, Phorusrhacos, Titanis, Gastornis (Please note that Gastornis is not a member of the terror bird family).

    Kelenken was first properly described by science in 2007. All that was found was the skull and some foot bones, but comparisons with related species have painted a fairly good picture of what it was like in reality. It's discovery surprised scientists as it was always thought that the largest terror birds would be husky and bulky creatures. Instead, Kelenken was lightly built like the smaller members of the family.

    Built for the kill
    Kelenken boasted a fearsome array of arnaments including a massive hooked beak (it's skull was bigger than a horse's head) which tests have shown to have been able to penetrate and crack solid bone, not to mention swallow a small to medium sized dog whole!


    Its feet were endowed with sharp talons which when combined with it's powerful leg muscles could deliver a crippling kung-fu style kick.
    Studies on a smaller relatve called Mesembriornis have shown that Kelenken could run at speeds of over 70 kilometers per hour (70km/ph is considered the average terror bird speed). While some scientists have speculated that Mesembriornis could reach 90km/ph, it is likely that Kelenken's top speed was somewhere in between the two. Such speed rivals the modern day cheetah.


    Where have I seen you before?
    The National Geographic programme 'Prehistoric Predators' had an episode called 'Terror Bird' which featured Kelenken and other phorusrhacids. Although this video mostly features Titanis, Kelenken can be seen at the start killing a glyptodont.

    The terror birds in the movie 10,000 BC also look and act a bit like Kelenken:


  • Registered Users Posts: 25,560 Kess73

    I'm just stunned that you managed to wait so long before popping up a terror bird. :D