Magnificent Mihirungs

Magnificent Mihirungs

The Colossal Flightless Birds of the Australian Dreamtime
Peter F. Murray and Patricia Vickers-Rich
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 03/04/2004
Format: Hardback 259 b&w photos, 1 bibliog., 1 index
ISBN: 978-0-253-34282-9
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Whitley Medal 2004Lanzendorf Paleoart Award 2004

Over millions of years, Australia’s unique biodiversity has produced a large cabinet of curiosities. Among the weirder members of this group were the Mihirungs, members of the now extinct family Dromornithidae. Made up of several genera of flightless birds—among them one of the very largest birds that ever lived—the dromornithids ranged from 60-kilogram beasts, 1.5 meters tall, to giants twice that size, weighing nearly half a metric ton. They were, by orders of magnitude, the largest "geese" that ever lived. One species was comparable in size to the Ele-phantbird of Madagascar and the Giant Moa of New Zealand. This book is the first major study of this unique and highly diverse group. It aims to present as complete a synthesis as possible of current information about this fascinating family of birds.

Author Bio

Peter F. Murray is a researcher at the Museum of Central Australia in Alice Springs.

Patricia Vickers-Rich holds a Chair in Palaeontology at Monash University, where she lectures in the Earth Sciences Department. She is co-author (with Thomas H. Rich) of Wildlife of Gondwana: Dinosaurs and Other Vertebrates from the Ancient Supercontinent (IUP, 2000) and Dinosaurs of Darkness (IUP, 2000).

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Table of Contents

Preliminary Table of Contents:
I. Discovery
1. The Discovery of the Dromornithids
II. Systematics and Morphology
2. Mihirungs: Extinct, Gigantic Australian Geese
3. Classification
4. Overview of Dromornithid Species, Localities, and Associated Fauna
5. Description of Dromornithid Structure
6. Relationships and Phylogeny
7. Dromornithids and the Origin of Anseriform Birds
8. Relationships within the Dromornithidae
III. Paleobiology
9. Appearance, Posture, and Stature
10. Body Mass Estimations
11. Could Dromornithids Run?
12. The Feeding Apparatus
13. The Economy of Scale
IV. Paleoecology
14. Evidence from Local Faunas
15. Habitat and Diet
16. Evolution
Appendix: Basic Avian Skeletal Morphology