Ancient Mystery Solved
The now extinct giant Haast’s eagle ruled the skies over New Zealand 750 years ago attacking moa from mountain perches and capable of killing small children. Because of their large size – these eagles weighed up to 18 kg – some scientists believe they were scavengers rather than predators. But the new study showed that not only was Haast’s eagle a fearsome predator, it also evolved over a relatively short period of time from a much smaller-bodied ancestor. Researchers Paul Scofield of the Canterbury Museum and Ken Ashwell of the University of New South Wales used computerised CT and CAT scans to reconstruct the size of the brain, eyes, ears and spinal cord of this ancient eagle. “This work is a great example of how rapidly evolving medical techniques and equipment can be used to solve ancient mysteries,” Ashwell said. The study was published in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.