Rare fossil of Oldest Koala-hunting eagle found in South Australia | Daily Current Affairs 2021
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Rare fossil of Oldest Koala-hunting eagle found in South Australia

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Koala-Hunting Eagle: A fossil belonging to a koala-hunting eagle has recently been discovered near a barren, dried-up lake in Southern Australia.

Key Details:

  • Paleontologists found 63 bones that they believe belong to an eagle, which existed 25 million years ago.

Note: Paleontologists are those scientists who study fossils.

  • The scientists have given this newly discovered species of raptor a rather snappy name – Archaehierax sylvestris.
  • According to a study published Monday in the peer-reviewed journal, Historical Biology, Archaehierax is the largest eagle known to have lived in Australia during the Oligocene period, which dates back about 33.9 million to 23 million years ago,
  • Paleontologists from Adelaide’s Flinders University unearthed the fossil in March 2016 on a remote outback cattle station during a research trip at Lake Pinpa in South Australia.
  • The area rarely holds water any more, but back when the Archaehierax sylvestris it would have been 60 miles across and surrounded by a lush, green rainforest.
  • The area around Lake Pinpa has been the keeper of many fossils of pre-historic animals for centuries.
  • And this has helped paleontologists find out more about the kind of wildlife that used to live in Australia.
  • The earliest known ancestors of modern marsupials, such as bandicoots, possums, kangaroos and wombats, have all been found at the site, along with many avian herbivores, such as ducks and cormorants.

Fossil of Koala-hunting eagle:

  • The partial fossil skeleton is comprised of 63 bones.
  • The completeness of the skeleton allowed researchers to determine where it fits on the eagle family tree.
  • The fossil bones reveal that the wings of the species were short for its size, which made them quite agile and allowed them to dodge trees while it hunted.
  • Its legs were relatively long, which would have given it considerable reach.
  • Koala-hunting eagle was slightly smaller and leaner than the wedge-tailed eagle.

About Wedge-tailed eagle:

  • The Wedge-tailed eagle is known as wedge-tail, or wedgies in Australia.
  • Its scientific name is Aquila audax.
  • The Wedge-tailed Eagle is Australia’s largest living bird of prey and one of the largest eagles in the world.
  • They are also found in southern New Guinea.
  • They have long, fairly broad wings (wingspan 2.3 m), a characteristic long, wedge-shaped tail, and legs that are feathered all the way to the base of the toes.
  • The bill is pale pink to cream, the eye brown to dark brown, and the feet off-white.
  • They are one among 12 species of large, dark-coloured booted eagles in the genus Aquila.

About Eagles:

  • Eagle is the common name for many large birds of prey of the family Accipitridae.
  • Eagles belong to several groups of genera, some of which are closely related.
  • Most of the 60 species of eagle are from Eurasia and Africa.
  • Outside this area, just 14 species can be found—2 in North America, 9 in Central and South America, and 3 in Australia.
  • They are at the top of the food chain, with some species feeding on big prey like monkeys and sloths.
  • Eagles are monogamous. They mate for life and use the same nest each year.

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