Ancient Animals: Terror Bird

Overview

There are a lot of large birds that inhabit our world today—the albatross, the condor, the emperor penguin. But none of these compare to the terror bird: a bird of prey that roamed ancient South America over fifteen million years ago. The terror bird could stand as tall as a basket ball hoop, with strong beaks designed to hunt. For sixty million years, the terror bird thrived. Almost every other animal could be considered its prey.

How did this prehistoric creature live and ...

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Overview

There are a lot of large birds that inhabit our world today—the albatross, the condor, the emperor penguin. But none of these compare to the terror bird: a bird of prey that roamed ancient South America over fifteen million years ago. The terror bird could stand as tall as a basket ball hoop, with strong beaks designed to hunt. For sixty million years, the terror bird thrived. Almost every other animal could be considered its prey.

How did this prehistoric creature live and hunt? How did it eventually become extinct? Sarah Thompson presents this scientific information with the emerging reader in mind—the text is simple, concise, and clear, yet full of useful and thought-provoking facts and ideas. Andrew Plant’s illustrations, labeled throughout, provide readers with an accurate visual of the creatures presented. Lovers of nature and paleontology will find much to enjoy in this introduction to the biggest meat-eating bird that ever lived.

Back matter includes facts about other flightless birds—both alive and extinct—as well as additional resources for further discovery.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Bonita Herold
Not nearly as well known a dinosaur as the Tyrannosaurus Rex, a bird called the Terror Bird once roamed what is now South America. Like the ostrich and penguin of today, the Terror Bird was unable to fly. Flight was not necessary because it ran very fast. Ranging in size from as tall as a standard-sized basketball hoop or as short as an eagle, the Terror Bird remained the biggest meat-eating bird on Earth, and no other creature dared to tangled with it. Because of that, the species was known as a top predator and lived for sixty million years. It was not until the landscape began to change—South and North America merged with the formation of a bridge of land—that the Terror Bird lost its foothold. The introduction of new top predators may have caused its demise. Other factors, such as the changing climate or formation of mountains could also have had a part. No one knows the reason with certainty, but scientists have concluded that the Terror Bird stopped roaming the Earth about two and a half million years ago. With colorful illustrations throughout, this uniquely informative book about Terror Birds will be a welcome addition to any elementary classroom. Reviewer: Bonita Herold
Kirkus Reviews
Potentially high-interest nonfiction content is obscured by missed opportunities for collaboration between art and text in this early reader. Although the text immediately establishes the temporal and physical setting ("This is South American fifteen million years ago"), ensuing pages fail to clarify the introduction of the book's subject, a now-extinct predatory bird. A frontmatter note indicates "The terror bird featured in this book is Kelenken guillermoi, a seven-foot-tall predator that lived about fifteen million years ago," but if readers miss this key notation, they may flounder as they read about the eponymous terror bird's predatory ways. The text intersperses facts within imagined hunting scenes, but the art fails to make the most of the descriptions. For example, the fourth page of text tells readers that "There were many kinds of terror birds. The smallest was the size of an eagle. A large one could be the size of a basketball hoop." The accompanying picture shows two prehistoric birds labeled Brontornis and Psilopterus, and although they contrast greatly in size, they are set against an entirely white page, so there is no indication of scale to match the text. A more successful spread compares the role of these top predators with those that exist today, such as sharks, wolves and tigers. An uneven, though potentially engaging, offering. (resources) (Informational early reader. 5-8)
School Library Journal
09/01/2013
K-Gr 2—Imagine a predator that stands about seven feet tall and has an enormous hooked beak and long, thick, sharp talons. All of these traits combined to form the largest-known carnivore in the avian world, called the terror bird. It thrived in South America more than 15 million years ago but died out after a land bridge between South and North America formed. These facts, coupled with acrylic gouache illustrations that artfully depict the terrain and various items on the terror bird's menu as they are eaten, will appeal to children fascinated by predator/prey relationships and creatures of the past. The book includes a gallery of other flightless birds. The text is simple and straightforward, with short sentences and an open format. The author concludes with theories about the bird's demise.—Maggie Chase, Boise State University, ID
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781580893985
  • Publisher: Charlesbridge Publishing, Inc.
  • Publication date: 8/1/2013
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 6 - 9 Years
  • Lexile: 490L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 6.42 (w) x 8.44 (h) x 0.39 (d)

Meet the Author

Sarah L. Thomson is a former children’s book editor who is now a full-time children’s book writer. She has written more than thirty books across many genres. She lives in Portland, Maine.

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