Birds taller than elephants may have once lived alongside human beings

It weighed as much as a modern polar bear, and could have walked among the earliest human beings.

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The Pachystruthio dmanisensis weighed around three times that of than an ostrich.

Christophe Archambault/AFP/Getty Images

Emus and Ostriches are dangerous. We know this. They're so hardcore the Australian Army officially lost a war with them in 1932.

Now imagine they were bigger. Much bigger. Like as tall as an elephant bigger.

Meet the Pachystruthio dmanisensis, a gigantic flightless bird that once stood 3.5 metres tall (for scale an African elephant typically stands at 3.3 metres tall). It weighed around 450kg, which is around three times the weight of an ostrich, currently the largest living bird on the planet.

Over 1.2 million years ago, scientists think they may have lived alongside human beings in Europe.

As discussed in research recently published in the Journal of Verterbrate Paleontology, the Pachystruthio dmanisensis roamed eastern Europe at a time when the earliest known humans were arriving from Africa.

Interestingly, as opposed to other prehistoric birds of its size, the Pachystruthio dmanisensis is thought to have been a decent runner (although not as fast as modern Emus or Ostriches) and actually took down young mammoths as prey.

To reiterate: this gigantic, elephant-sized bird hunted mammoths.

The Pachystruthio dmanisensis is believed to be the biggest bird ever found in Europe, but it isn't the world's biggest bird, historically. That title belongs to the Vorobe Titan, which once weighed 800 kilograms and lived in Madagascar. Not sure if that bird attempted to take down mammoths, though. Crucial distinction.

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