Only a few tens of thousands of years ago huge marsupials roamed the Australian savannah – similar to the great herds that roamed the Serengeti. If one of these animals dies, users won’t be far away. Among those scavengers are vultures, according to findings by Elaine Mather of Flinders University and her team, As they write in “Zootaxa”..
The working group re-examined fossil bird bones found 100 years ago and compared them to other materials discovered in recent years. At the time, paleontologists identified it as the remains of an eagle, but Mather and his colleagues, after comparing the bones with those of different raptors, came to a different conclusion. For example, the lower foot bone was too weak to catch prey. “It immediately became clear that this bird was not adapted for hunting, and therefore was neither a hawk nor an eagle,” Mather says.
Genetics analysis also identified the species to vultures and not true vultures. Accordingly, the team changed the naming of the species from Taphaetus lacertosus to me Cryptogyps lacertosusTo kinship with the genealogy of the Old World vulture plaster for clarification.
“This discovery solves the mystery of what happened to so many carcasses of megafauna before vultures were supposed to exist on the continent. Now we know they were here. They were hidden in plain sight,” says Flinders University researcher Trevor Worthy. Cryptogyps lacertosusPart of the wingbone was found in 1901 near Kalamurina Homestead on the Warburton River in South Australia. Its discoverer believes that it is a relative of the extinct wedge-tailed vulture, which still lives in Australia and does not disdain carrion.
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