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Still Waters

25-million-year-old ancient eagle ruled the roost in Australia

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Still Waters

A 25-million-year-old eagle fossil found in South Australia adds to the long evolutionary history of raptors in Australia.  

Palaeontologists from Flinders University have unearthed Australia's oldest eagle fossils on a remote outback cattle station, describing a new fossil species which lived during the late Oligocene. Named Archaehierax sylvestris, this species is one of the oldest eagle-like raptors in the world. 

"This species was slightly smaller and leaner than the wedge-tailed eagle, but it's the largest eagle known from this time period in Australia," says Flinders University Ph.D. candidate Ellen Mather, first author in the new paper published in the peer-reviewed journal Historical Biology.

"The foot span was nearly 15 cm long, which would have allowed it to grasp large prey. The largest marsupial predators at the time were about the size of a small dog or large cat, so Archaehierax was certainly ruling the roost."



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