3 million years ago, this brutish giant petrel likely eviscerated dead seals with its knife-like beak

An artist’s interpretation of the newfound giant petrel ripping into a dead seal about 3 million years ago in what is now New Zealand. (Image credit: Illustration by Simone Giovanardi, © Te Papa; (CC-BY 4.0))

About 3 million years ago, giant petrels terrorized the skies and seas of the Southern Hemisphere with their deadly hooked bills and piercing eyes, a new study on a previously unknown bird species finds.

The discovery — based on a well-preserved skull and weathered humerus (upper wing bone) of the ancient predator from New Zealand’s North Island — marks the only extinct giant petrel species on record, the researchers reported in a study published Jan. 30 in the journal Taxonomy (opens in new tab).

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