Ancient Animals: Terror Bird
Sarah L. Thomson, author
Sarah 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, including Ancient Animals: Terror Bird and Ancient Animals: Saber-Toothed Cat. She lives in Portland, Maine.
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Andrew Plant, illustrator
Andrew is a trained zoologist with a strong interest in paleontology. He has illustrated more than one hundred books for children, including Living Fossils: Clues to the Past; A Platypus, Probably; Ancient Animals: Terror Bird; and Ancient Animals: Saber-Toothed Cat. Andrew lives in Melbourne, Australia.
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As the title implies, a "terror bird" is a member of an ancient and fearsome family. Living in the land that was to become South America millions of years ago, these birds ruled the grasslands. We are still learning about these fascinating creatures from their fossil records.
This book introduces the reader to a species that was previously unknown--a group that varied widely in size from as small as an eagle to as big as a one-story building. A voracious consumer, this bird could swallow its prey whole or slice it apart with its sharp, curved beak. Although it had wings, the terror bird did not fly but it ran really fast. As a top predator, it ruled!
Scientists have a variety of theories about the extinction of the terror bird. The reader can continue investigating through the resources listed at the conclusion of the text. The colorful illustrations present comparison to modern top predators as well as flightless birds familiar to readers. The drawings embedded with the scientific name of various organisms help the reader make connections and begin to understand the connectivity over species over time.
School Library Journal
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.
Dinosaurs get plenty of attention, but what about other ancient creatures? Thomson and Plant attempt to remedy this oversight with a glimpse into the life of the terror bird, a prehistoric bird with powerful hind legs; a gigantic, meat-tearing beak; and tiny, flightless wings. In brief, informative free-verse lines, Thomson details the terror bird's size ("The smallest was the size of an eagle. A large one could be as tall as a basketball hoop"); predatory habits ("It could break bones with one kick"); and its place in the ecosystem ("They kept a balance between food, predators, and prey"). Plant's vivid paintings of the terror bird in action--chasing down prey, tearing apart their quarry--are clearly labeled with scientific names. Though the book notably lacks a glossary, the list of flightless birds that can be seen today (the much gentler ostrich and emu, for example) and resources for futher research make this a good starting point for young readers interested in prehistoric animals.
ISBN: 978-1-60734-610-4 PDF
Page count: 32
8 1⁄4 x 6
Correlated to Common Core State Standards:
Reading Informational. Grades 1 to 3. Standards 1-4, 7, and 10.