Everyone knows that the No. 1 threat facing our American way of life is avian terrorism. So frazzled are we by the chance of another, less miraculous mid-air disaster like the one that took down Flight 1549 that we’ve launched a preemptive chemical-warfare campaign against entire species of birds. And yet, our terrorist birds are just so dumb flying right into glass buildings by the thousands, for example and harmless compared to the terrorist birds of yore. We’re talking very yore.
According to scientists who have closely analyzed the skull of the five-foot, 90-pound winged beast Andalgalornis steulleti — popularly known as the “terror bird” — we should just be grateful that we did not live in South America around 5,000,000 B.C.:
The authors concluded that the bird probably bobbed and weaved like Muhammad Ali and used a repeated attack and retreat strategy, jabbing straight down with the skull to use the beak like a pickax, repeatedly driving the bill tip into the prey. “It was using its powerful neck like the handle of a pickax,” Witmer said. The bird could then use its beak to pull meat off the carcass.
We imagine that even the monkeylike ancestor of Captain Sully would have been mercilessly picked to death by the Andalgalornis steulleti.