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Rare Fossil of Eagle From 25 Million Years ago Discovered in Australia

Scientists have discovered a complete Fossil of a 25-million-year-old eagle that once flew over South Australia and preyed on koalas. Experts said that it is incredibly rare to find the Fossil because of how well preserved it is. The study was published on Monday in a peer-reviewed journal.

The newly discovered species, Archaehierax sylvestris, is one of the oldest eagle-like raptors in the world. Palaeontologists 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 study said that 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. According to the Western Australian Museum, it was smaller than the wedge-tailed eagle, Australia’s largest bird of prey.With feet nearly 6 inches long, the eagle would have had the ability to grasp large prey. The scientists said it would have hunted an extinct species of the koala, which was about the same size as those alive today, as well as possums and other animals in trees.

Ellen Mather, author of the study and Flinders University postdoctoral candidate said that the largest marsupial predators at the time were about the size of a small dog or large cat, so Archaehierax was certainly ruling the roost.The partial Fossil skeleton consists of 63 bones, making the species one of the best-preserved species found around Lake Pinpa. The completeness of the skeleton allowed researchers to determine where it fits on the eagle family tree.

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