Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Science

Ancestors of Homo Sapiens Hunted by Birds 286

Posted by Zonk
from the mind-the-parrots dept.
CFTM writes "The associate press writer, Alexandra Zavis, reports that 'A South African anthropologist said Thursday his research into the death nearly 2 million years ago of an ape-man shows human ancestors were hunted by birds.' The article raises some really fascinating questions, particularly when one begins to think about the evolutionary impact that this may have had on humans." From the article: "The Ohio State study determined that eagles would swoop down, pierce monkey skulls with their thumb-like back talons, then hover while their prey died before returning to tear at the skull. Examination of thousands of monkey remains produced a pattern of damage done by birds, including holes and ragged cuts in the shallow bones behind the eye sockets. Berger went back to the Taung skull, and found traces of the ragged cuts behind the eye sockets. He said none of the researchers who had for decades been debating how the child died had noticed the eye socket damage before."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Ancestors of Homo Sapiens Hunted by Birds

Comments Filter:
  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <.moc.liamg. .ta. .nhojovadle.> on Saturday January 14, 2006 @01:47AM (#14469775) Journal
    Perhaps our psychological fascination with dragons and birds of prey are subsequent results of frequent bird attacks on our ancestors? At any rate, it's been commonly believed that several thousand years of exposure to a species results in a slight increase of instinct of fear with each newborn. Books like Guns, Germs & Steel by Jared Diamond explain how evolutionary fears in species develop over many thousand years of exposure. Could what we see in movies of carrion-like dragons be a remnant of psychological fears imposed by these raptors on our ancestors?

    If at one time our ancestors were hunted by large birds, what happened to them? One can easily think of ways for other large predator animals to be removed from the food chain but large raptors seem to have no natural predator. Did modern man learn to defend himself from such birds? Did our stone weapons suffice for protecting us from such large aerial predators or was it not until bronze weapons that we were specialized enough to protect ourselves?

    While the telltale signs might remain in skeletons, these issues raise a host of new issues that obviously require much more research to be determined.

    More importantly, aren't the researchers overlooking the obvious possibility that the "ragged cuts" behind the eye sockets resulted from carrion birds after the death of the individual?

    Perhaps it was the case that many of these ancestors were wiped out from a plague that left no evidence of itself and there just happened to be large scavenger birds everywhere to capitalize off of these corpses? The result would be thousands (if not millions) of dead corpses left for scavengers to ravage. Corpses close enough to an aviary or bird sanctuary would likely suffer from these skull markings. Were the markings also present on other parts of the bodies? I've seen vultures pick a corpse clean and they probably worked pretty hard to get at the fat and oil rich brain ... the easiest access being the eyes.

    Maybe the eyes of dead human corpses are merely a delicacy among scavenger birds or some other scavenger that left similar markings?
    • by Private Taco (808864) on Saturday January 14, 2006 @01:57AM (#14469809)
      "I've seen vultures pick a corpse clean and they probably worked pretty hard to get at the fat and oil rich brain ... the easiest access being the eyes."

      You worked at Microsoft too?

    • you gotta wonder if Hitchcock knew it all along...(link provided for young'uns: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0056869/ [imdb.com])
    • I think you should read the article a little more closely. This is building on data not only from the Taung child, but also from an Ohio State study on the predatory habits of certain birds. The study shows that birds did indeed hunt the way Berger suggests, from the evidence on thousands of monkey skulls. Similar damage is found on the Taung child, which would suggest that it was killed in the same way.
    • The article says nothing about adult-sized pre-humans being hunted by birds, only monkeys and one pre-human child, so I don't think there ever where a problem with birds hunting fully grown Hominidae or adult members of the homo genus, at least there is no scientific backing for it that I know of.
    • by Gorobei (127755) on Saturday January 14, 2006 @02:11AM (#14469849)
      Bah. A behavior as simple as protecting your tribe's corpses from opportunistic predators quickly ensures you generally don't get attacked by eagles. Once a raptor sees it doesn't get a free meal from attacking proto-humans, it quickly gives up.

      Heck, burying your dead becomes a great advantage: predators gain nothing from killing your species, and soon seek prey that actually gives them food! Maybe human death rituals (e.g. burial, burning, leaving to vultures) got started because they ensured predators didn't profit from the death of the victim.
      • by lawpoop (604919) on Saturday January 14, 2006 @03:54AM (#14470093) Homepage Journal
        "A behavior as simple as protecting your tribe's corpses from opportunistic predators quickly ensures you generally don't get attacked by eagles."

        That is an extremely complex behavior. Very few animals do it, and those that do are very intelligent social animals. The only animals who do it that I can think of offhand are elephants and humans.

      • If we're going to use logic, then don't bury humans because it teaches worms to attack us.

        The obvious way to ensure that eagles don't benefit from a dead human lying around is to eat it first.
        "It" being either the eagles or the body.

        • If we're going to use logic, then don't bury humans because it teaches worms to attack us.

          On the other hand, it's really easy to defend ourselves against worms... just makes sure we're on the top of the ground, and not buried underneath it.

          See? No worries ;o)
      • by omnirealm (244599) on Saturday January 14, 2006 @10:33AM (#14470862) Homepage

        Maybe human death rituals (e.g. burial, burning, leaving to vultures) got started because they ensured predators didn't profit from the death of the victim.

        In Pascal Boyer's book, Religion Explained, he suggests that burial rituals may have formed for a variety of reasons. One idea is that burial rituals mark a transition between two states of being, since our human free agent inference system in our brains still think of the corpse as somehow still possessing an attribute of human-ness. In that way, burials can be viewed in the same light as other rite-of-passage rituals like baptism or marriage.

        Another theory is that mentioned by the parent poster, in that dangerous scavangers are less likely to come near the clan looking for dead bodies to eat. The problem with that idea is that early humans were nomadic foragers, which would make it easy for them to avoid such an invasion. And then why do these early burials involve such unnecessary components as flowers, aligned horns, or tools? Furthermore, it would seem that risks of infection from a decaying body would present a more compelling reason to dispose of the body (burial, burning, ingesting by a spiritual specialist, etc.).

        Death rituals are likely to stem from the natural human disposition that something must be done. I could go on for several more paragraphs, but this diversion has gone on far enough; those who would like to more fully investigate the phenomenon of burial should read chapter 6 of Boyer's book.

        Onto the subject of being preyed upon by birds -- Joseph Campbell talks about experiments wherein scientists draw a wood cutout of a hawk on a string across a chicken pen. The chicks will scurry for cover when that happens. When the scientists drew the hawk across the pen backwards, the chicks did not react. Campbell identified this behavior as an innate releasing mechanism (IRM). It is somewhat like a hard-wired circuit in the brains of these animals that evolved through the selection pressure of millions of years of being hunted by hawks. Other posters have mentioned that perhaps that is why we are so fascinated by dragons and what not in our mythological tales. We have an inference system in our brains that is wired to evoke a stronger emotive response to the image of a big bird-like creature, and hence that leads to the adoption of the bird meme in the images of our culture.


        • I'd like to propose that burial rituals could result from how distressing it is to see the remains of your loved one slowly decaying, being gnawed away, etc. The only alternative that made sense would be to burn the remains. And as it turns out, that is the other common death ritual.
    • You can indeed see the effect of a thousand years of conditioning on the island of Japan. For 2000 years, the Japanese people have lived on a resource-poor island. When resources are scarce, everyone in the village is forced to share and to cooperate. Only through cooperation as a group can everyone expect to survive.

      If a person does not cooperate with the group and stakes his own territory, then he risks his own survival. By himself, he will have a hard time in finding the necessary food and hospitab

    • by lawpoop (604919) on Saturday January 14, 2006 @04:09AM (#14470127) Homepage Journal
      I happen to agree with this theory of evolutionary predation fears. I think this could be used to explain all these 'hairy men' creatures that appear all over the world.

      Up until about 200,000 years ago [wikimedia.org] there were about 5 or 6 different apes running around alongside our direct ancestors. These guys were smart, and they could use spears. My guess is they had a lot of body hair.

      My personal pet theory is that about 100,000, human beings began systematically exterminating all other groups of hominids besides their own. The only hominids crafty enough to escape the slaughter were other homo sapiens.

      You can see this continue today. Any group of human beings that give themselves some kind of group identity hate those other guys -- that group next door -- and will try to kill all of them, given the opportunity. They also think of other groups of people as savage animals.

      So anways, rewind 100,000 years ago. A hairless human hunter venturing out into the woods to track down lunch stood a good chance of being killed by some hairy spear-wielding apeman.

      Fast forward to today. People are still catching glimpses of hairy apemen in the woods (Bigfoot, Sasquatch, Yeti, whatever). Not that those hairy apemen are still alive, but that it's better to be paranoid and *suspect* that a creaking branch or other ambiguous sensory data is a hairy apeman, rather than foolishly walking into a hairy ape-mans' spear. To this day, human groups view their neighbor groups as savage animals who they are probably better off getting rid of.
    • All predators have to eat fairly frequently (~weekly) in spite of evolving feast-or-famine metabolisms and energy reserves. Nevermind their prey, they cannot afford to run significant risk of crippling injury during their predatation. That's why prey are helpless. If they had a chance, they wouldn't be stable, suitable prey.

      Raptor attacks would [rein]force hominids into social bands. Even stoning would be an unacceptible risk to the fragile wings. So raptors would only attack out of absolute panic sta

    • WRT hunting birds:
      When humans developed either spear throwers or archers then the birds would have begun learning to keep their distance. This wouldn't have needed to wait for stone tools, either, if, e.g., spear throwers came first.

      OTOH, larger primates like even proto-humans don't need to fear active predation from flying birds (as opposed to something like ax-beaks) even when they are unarmed. It's too dangerous for the bird. Primates are likely to grab ahold and not let go. The bird may kill them by
  • How apt! (Score:5, Funny)

    by mrseigen (518390) on Saturday January 14, 2006 @01:47AM (#14469776) Homepage Journal
    Nothing for you to see here. Please move along.
    Slashdot is in league with the birds.
  • Suddenly... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Guppy06 (410832) on Saturday January 14, 2006 @01:53AM (#14469791)
    I don't feel so bad about wind power any more.
  • Old news, some doubt (Score:5, Informative)

    by John Hawks (624818) * on Saturday January 14, 2006 @01:55AM (#14469799)

    This story is mostly old news; the same researchers proposed it about ten years ago. The original idea was that the site where the skull was found (Taung) had a lot of young monkeys, which not only suggests predation, but also a relatively lightweight predator. Most of the other South African caves preserve larger adult specimens as well, which might have gotten in themselves or been carried (or dropped) by larger predators like leopards. It is a very tricky case to say that the accumulating agent at Taung must have been eagles, though, since it is much more likely that different predators and non-predation factors operated at different times for any given site.

    What they found that justified a new paper was damage inside the eye orbits of the specimen, which is one area where eagle talons damage their prey. It could be true, but on the other hand there is a lot of doubt. After all, eagles aren't the only predators that damage the eyes, and there are other ways that the bones may have accumulated, chiefly water transport, that might not require predation at all. As one of my colleagues put it, so many young primates die of disease or inadequate nutrition; the chances of this story is greater than zero, but how much?

    --John (my anthropology weblog is at http://johnhawks.net/weblog/ [johnhawks.net])
  • by aapold (753705) * on Saturday January 14, 2006 @01:59AM (#14469818) Homepage Journal
    This has been known a long time, their primary diet consists of monkeys and sloths which they pluck from trees. Not many of them left though.

    Wikipedia entry for Harpy Eagle [wikipedia.org].
  • by d474 (695126) on Saturday January 14, 2006 @02:04AM (#14469831)
    ...because I don't think there is any bird alive today that doesn't fly away the minute we get anywhere near them, no matter how large. (okay, maybe an ostrich will fight us, but that is a BIG bird...)

    How do we know that the holes in the heads didn't come from other proto-humans that fastened a bird talon to the end of some spear and then battled one another? That would seem to make a pretty lethal weapon.
    • by John Hawks (624818) * on Saturday January 14, 2006 @02:15AM (#14469862)
      ...because I don't think there is any bird alive today that doesn't fly away the minute we get anywhere near them, no matter how large. (okay, maybe an ostrich will fight us, but that is a BIG bird...)

      Certainly so, if it was big enough to carry the kid off -- we're talking about a 2-4 year old toddler -- it would have to be a LOTR-size eagle. Maybe Gandalf called in an airstrike?

      I think either an attack with damage inflicted at the site of attack, or an eagle who had later access to a carcass killed by another predator and carried off only the head would be more likely hypotheses.

      An earlier poster suggested that carrion birds might have been responsible, and I think that is a good idea as well.

      --John (My post is at my anthropology weblog, http://johnhawks.net/weblog [johnhawks.net])
      • by A beautiful mind (821714) on Saturday January 14, 2006 @02:35AM (#14469914)
        "it would have to be a LOTR-size eagle. Maybe Gandalf called in an airstrike?"

        Oh yea, I'm on slashdot baby.
      • "Certainly so, if it was big enough to carry the kid off -- we're talking about a 2-4 year old toddler -- it would have to be a LOTR-size eagle. "

        The ancestor we are talking about was from two million years ago. It was a tree-swinging ape. The two year old probably weighed five pounds.
        • The ancestor we are talking about was from two million years ago. It was a tree-swinging ape. The two year old probably weighed five pounds.

          Remember that chimpanzees and other apes develop faster than humans. Although the adults were a bit less in mass than living people (35 - 45 kg instead of 55 - 70), the toddlers would have been either about the same or slightly more for their age than living humans. My 2-year-olds are 30 pounds.

          --John
      • by Descalzo (898339)
        Did I miss something? I don't recall reading the child's age. How do we know it wasn't an infant. The skull in the photo looks pretty small. You wouldn't need a bird bigger than what we have around today, would you?
      • Certainly so, if it was big enough to carry the kid off -- we're talking about a 2-4 year old toddler -- it would have to be a LOTR-size eagle. Maybe Gandalf called in an airstrike?


        You are ignoring an important possibility: Supposing two birds carried the kid off, together? They could just use a strand of creeper to do that!
    • I don't think there is any bird alive today that doesn't fly away the minute we get anywhere near them
      You've never seen a grouse? It'll just sit there absolutely still, hoping you won't see it. People have actually run them over on the road.
    • How about a raptor weighing 200lb+, standing 6.5ft tall with a wingspan of 7-8 meters (~25ft)?

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Argentavis_magnificen s [wikipedia.org]

      Not too much you could do to stop one of those swooping down and sucking on your brain!
    • How big a bird? Would an eagle with a 3 meter wingspan (that's just shy of 10' for you Americans) that hunted moa [wikipedia.org] (flightless birds that weighed as much as 250kg (more than 500 pounds)) count? Because Haast's eagle [wikipedia.org] was exactly that, and only became extinct around 500 years ago. One of those would have had no trouble taking down a man.

      New Zealand has very unique fauna, and unlike nearby Australia (which seems to have the finest array of deadly creatures in the world) it's almost all harmless. Haast's eagle w
    • ...because I don't think there is any bird alive today that doesn't fly away the minute we get anywhere near them, no matter how large.

      Go ahead, screw with an owl nest or eagle nest. I'd make sure your insurance is up to date before you do.

      • ...because I don't think there is any bird alive today that doesn't fly away the minute we get anywhere near them, no matter how large.

        Go ahead, screw with an owl nest or eagle nest. I'd make sure your insurance is up to date before you do.


        I was parking my car in a lot where a pair of Canada geese were nesting, and as soon as the car stopped, the male came towards it, honking and wings flapping, preparing to attack. I decided to avoid stressing them out, and parked further away.

        Plus my car is so old, I'm n
    • For example the Haast Eagle [google.co.uk]?

      It preyed on Moas, birds about 6ft tall and pretty slow. OK, it's not Africa, but when the Maoris came to NZ there would have been another creature about 6ft tall and pretty slow to prey on...

  • by xoip (920266) on Saturday January 14, 2006 @02:06AM (#14469838) Homepage
    Story reminds me of trying to eat fries outside a fast food joint and fighting off the seagulls.
  • KFC for Vendetta (Score:5, Interesting)

    by EnsilZah (575600) <EnsilZah AT Gmail DOT com> on Saturday January 14, 2006 @02:17AM (#14469867)
    So the whole eating chicken thing is some unconcious racial memory payback thing?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 14, 2006 @02:19AM (#14469870)
    I for one say farewell to our old bird overlords.
  • Finally, an explanation of my morbid fear of live chicken.
  • by Belseth (835595) on Saturday January 14, 2006 @02:26AM (#14469892)
    There a kind of symetry involved that birds once considered us fast food and now we eat deep fried birds as fast food. I wonder if we gave them high cholesterol?
  • by utexaspunk (527541) on Saturday January 14, 2006 @02:46AM (#14469940)
    What happened to all these gigantic human-hunting birds? Did humans kill them all? It seems like they'd still be pretty successful, especially in rural areas. I'm glad I don't have to constantly be on the lookout for giant birds that could swoop down from the sky and pierce my brain with its talons through my eyeballs to let me dangle until I die. That's pretty horrific- someone should make a movie where a crazy scientist does some Jurassic Park shit and brings these birds back from extinction by crossbreeding them with pigeons. Being part pigeon, they multiply rapidly and quickly spread to the mainland US to terrorize the population....
    • I'm glad I don't have to constantly be on the lookout for giant birds that could swoop down from the sky and pierce my brain with its talons through my eyeballs to let me dangle until I die.
      but if you did have to you'd sure as hell wan't to carry with you the best anti bird weapon you could get your hands on and/or travel in groups.

      humans biggest evolotuionary advantage has been the ability to use weapons (and those weapons have got better and better over time) to take out animals much larger than themselve
    • What happened to all these gigantic human-hunting birds?

      They were destroyed during the Taft administration's seldom-mentioned War on Birds.

  • Human skulls used to be thicker, right?

    They'd have to have some might powerful talons to break through a thick skull.
  • by this great guy (922511) on Saturday January 14, 2006 @03:06AM (#14469981)

    to recategorize The Birds (1963) as a 'documentary'.

  • by queenb**ch (446380) on Saturday January 14, 2006 @03:10AM (#14469986) Homepage Journal
    There is a rather large african bird that runs and pack hunts on the African plains even now. I'm sure that one of you will know the name of it, as it escapes me at the moment. It is quite feared in the regions it is known to inhabit because it currently has the rather uncomfortable habit of killing and eating members of our species. People joke about the dragon saying "Humans...yes...I like them. They're crunchy and taste good with ketchup." However, we often forget that being slow, weak, and unarmed (compared to other species and their natural equipment) that we make a tempting meal for a great many things. Since this is true of modern man, even with all of our technology (googling on "man killed by bear" brings up at least 10 pages), this must have been even more true of our early ancestors.

    The whole reason that we consider a 30.06 superior to a flint tipped spear or big stick is because it can kill more stuff before that stuff can kill us. I can only imagine what it would have been like to try to fight of a predator armed only with the most basic implements. This leads me to think that early man was on the menu rather often. While this may sound cold to many of you, we have all benefitted from it, so don't feel too bad for the early guys. We know that our ancestors evolved quite a bit from looking at the fossil record. What's the big driving factor behind evolution? Predation. Wolves make the deer smarter and faster by culling the weak and stupid. Birds force moths to shift their coloration patterns by eating anything that "stands out". Why do we have these big brains and not a whole lot else? Predation. Since we didn't have fangs or claws or venom, we had to think our way out of being eaten. This selected for intelligence.

    One theory has it that we're here because we're loosers. Now, don't squeal...keep reading. We know that early hominds lived in forests. Why? Plenty of food and plenty of cover. The same reasons that modern apes are found in forests. Given the idea that forest is the most desirable habitat, why did early hominds forsake the forest and creep on to the plains? It's simple...they didn't leave because they suddenly thought "You know, going out there on the plains where there's no food, no water, and a lot of predators we can't out run sounds like a MARVELOUS idea!" They were driven out. Groups of apes, chimps, etc. war over territory constantly. Early hominids lost a battle to retain their territory and were driven out of the forest and on to the plains because they were loosers. That's right, we're all decended from a big bunch of loosers who made the best of what they had left. Sound familiar??? Being on the plains made forced the evolution of walking upright so that we could see over the top of the grass to see predators coming at us. Once we starting walking around as bipeds instead of knuckle draggers, we had these free hands. With free hands and opposable thumbs, well you can just get into all kinds of trouble can't you.

    Given that we have a long history of being dinner, I fail to see why these scientists think it's so odd. It seems emminently logical that some predator made the wounds on the skull.

    2 cents,

    Queen B
    • I don't know about some of this. I'm not sure that pre-humans were other animals dinner that often. It is important to recognize though that this pre-human of 2M years ago is basically an ape. Chimpanzees and Gorillas are probably better to compare this pre-human with than Neanderthals. Big cats probably posed some threat to the pre-humans, but Chimps and Gorillas don't face much by way of natural predators. These and other large apes are strong, social, and well organized. They can gang up on predators and
    • There is a rather large african bird that runs and pack hunts on the African plains even now. ... habit of killing and eating members of our species.

      No, there isn't. Ostrich eat plants and bugs [wikipedia.org]

      Why is this bogus post modded up?
      • Yeah um exactly what bird are we talking about here?

        The cassowary (australia and NZ) kills a few people each year by kicking them (it can weigh as much as 125 pounds and has very strong legs disemboweling or doing massive internal damage) as do Ostrich and Emu, and um Secretary birds are pretty large and carnivorous, but not big enough to attack humans.

        There was a man killed by Magpies in Australia Sept 2003 A ROGUE magpie has been captured and destroyed after fatally injuring one man and seriously i

    • It's a false assumption you are making that predation is necessary for evolution. A simple explanation is that intelligence allows us to survive better in other ways, such as:
      • Making clothing, to survive temperature extremes.
      • Hunting other creatures for food.
      • Crafting tools for the above two.
      • Learning and transmitting knowledge ("The green berries are poison") that is not innate

      There are plenty of other reasons beyond those that you suggest. No creatures alive today hunt humans for food, although many

      • Exactly. The problem with the whole social darwinism argument is it assumes that killing other things is automatically the main evolutionary "plus"... being able to kill members of another species may be useful in the grand scheme of things, but it hardly differentiates one species from another in terms of evolutionary potential. The dinosaurs were probably pretty incredible natural killers, but they didn't fare so well. We succeeded (so far) because we were able to provide for our own survival in many w
    • [i]There is a rather large african bird that runs and pack hunts on the African plains even now. I'm sure that one of you will know the name of it, as it escapes me at the moment. It is quite feared in the regions it is known to inhabit because it currently has the rather uncomfortable habit of killing and eating members of our species.[/i]

      Ummm, did you watch 'Walking with Beasts' and think it was a real nature documentary?
  • Overlords (Score:2, Insightful)

    by truckaxle (883149)
    I would guess that this is probably the original origin of the "overlord" cliche.

    Some little pip-squeak sitting around the communal fire, 2-million years ago trys to be cool and impress his commrades by announcing "I for one welcome our new avian menance overlords" Snicker snicker snicker. After months of repeating this phase with multiple variations his brained cracked skullcase somehow ended in the fire pit.
    • ...there is no stopping them; the quotes will soon be here.

      I, for one, welcome this new variation on the "I, for one, welcome our new {x} overlords". And I'd like to remind /. readers that as a trusted moderater, I can be helpful in modding up other variations to the effect that more /. readers are made to toil over such musings in their underground sugar caves.

  • by Ikoma Andy (41693) on Saturday January 14, 2006 @03:11AM (#14469993)
    I got chicks following me everywhere I go.
  • I guess that missing link is for the birds... Hahaha...stupid birds lost the evolutionary battle. Too bad, so sad...mwuhahaha
  • by dybdahl (80720) <[kd.lhadbyd] [ta] [ofni]> on Saturday January 14, 2006 @03:51AM (#14470086) Homepage Journal
    A good indicator, of how fast the best genes spread, is the story of Gengis Khan. According to a recent investigation in 2003, Djengis Khan's Y-chromosome is now carried by 16 million males in asia. Since these chromosomes are only given by fathers to sons, this 16 million multiplication of his genes in 800 years is quite remarkable. If he had superior genes then, he wouldn't have it as much today.
  • by bturtle (945841) on Saturday January 14, 2006 @03:59AM (#14470106)
    Noticed quite a few posts about imagined giant doom-birds swooping down to attack cave people, so I thought I'd mention a few things.

    First of all, the Taung baby was not a modern human. (Ausralopithecines are bipedal, but closer to apes than to modern humans apart from that). An adult averaged between 65 and 90 lbs., depending on gender.

    Second of all, they're talking about a child. It would be tiny, and the idea of something that small being attacked by a larger predatory bird doesn't seem that far-fetched. No need for Mothra.
  • by steveoc (2661) on Saturday January 14, 2006 @05:51AM (#14470316)
    Im so glad that somreone has had the guts to step forward and talk about this problem, since its still happening to this very day, and possibly because of the awful nature of this situation, it remains a deep and unspoken taboo.

    Look up in the sky on any given day - and behold the clouds, the blue skies, the sunshine ... and the circling sillouettes of those predators of the sky. Their beady eyes ever watchful for an opportunity to swoop and claim their victims from amongst the innocent below.

    It was only weeks ago that I was having a picnic by the river with my girlfriend and her 2 gorgeous children. Many other families were there as well, happy, laughing, breathing the fresh air and revelling in the sunshine. During this blissfull experience, I couldnt help but notice the sight of a pack of ibises chasing a young child of about 3 years old. The child was wailing in terror, and the ibises eventually cornered the victim in the reeds, tripped him over, and began to peck greedily at his flesh. The child's wailing died down to the replaced only by the squelching sounds of torn flesh.

    Whilst this awful scenario unfolded, everyone - including the child's parents, seemed to be totally oblivious to this horror. Countless generations of conditioning have left humankind in a position where we turn a blind eye to the sadistic excesses of our avian overlords.

    "Oh my - arnt the ants bad today !" explaimed my girlfriend. Yes, the ants were out in small numbers, but the shocking fact is that she made this statement as an ibis trotted triumphantly past us, dragging a ropey length of some unnamed human organ from its most recent victim - that cornered child !. This march of triumph was conducted in full view of everyone present - however it seems that acknowledging this sight was soooo clearly taboo that it remained blocked in the minds of the observers. I cannot forget the blazing triumph in the eyes of that Ibis, nor the mocking grin sculpted permanently onto its beak !

    And yesterday - queuing up in the local bank branch to deposit some cheques - there were at least a dozen people in the queue, all waiting patiently for service. Whilst things proceeded quickly enough, a few people were heard to mutter jokingly how they thought that the bank could afford to put on some more staff to speed up the level of service. A valid complaint perhaps ..... BUT .. during the 5 minutes that I was in that queue, the ceiling in the building was smashed inwards by the razor sharp talons of a spiteful Hawk and its over-grown mate. The evil pair of them fell down onto the head of an old lady, wantonly ripped at her eyes, and then dragged her off towards the exit. At the door waiting for them was a flock of gleeful vultures .. ready to make fast on this unexpected feast.

    Walking out of the bank, people continued about their business and even stepped over the grisly remains of the old lady - AS IF SHE WASNT THERE, AND AS IF THEY HAD NOT SEEN A THING. Smiling to themselves, they remembered the worst thing at the bank being the not-so-bad wait for service.

    The deeds of birds remain blocked in our minds.

    WHY ?
  • That totally explains my tendency to run and swat everytime a giant eagle starts clawing at my skull. I thought it was just me, but I guess it's instinct.
  • The Catherine Wheel [comcast.net] was a product of the middle ages, especially popular in Germany. The victim's limbs were crushed with blunt objects. His (or her) still-living remains were subjected to the wheel. This meant the mangled arms and legs were threaded through the spokes. The wheel was then hoisted into the air using a long pole. Hungry vultures and crows picked at the body. Death came slowly.

    So in conclusion, Homo Sapiens used torture?

  • It doesnt seem that farfetched to me that a species of eagle with a 12" wingspan (largest flying bird ever was more than twice that) would prey on children or even small adults untill we were quick enough with spears and smart enough with tactics to turn the tables.
  • Think about this. When you are hungry, really hungry, like you feel after some physical activity, and you MUST eat something NOW. You get aggressive (Check), your eyes stare in all directions scouting for something edible (Check), you will even eat what you don't normally like, such as brussels sprouts, anchovy pizza or licorice candy (Check!) Consider what humans did when suffering from not just extreme hunger, but the instinctive need to survive after the Andes air crash and Donner 'party'. So, you're a h
  • agoraphobia _is_ an adaptive behavior.
  • The article didn't say much about the damage or how it was ascertained that it was not a postmortem marking from scavangers. (Ever see a big buzzard chow down on a carcass? They tear the crap out of it). They also steal from each other carting off verious pieces (like the skull). Say monkeys (or some pre-humanoid critter with an unpronounceable name) had some ritual where they were creeped out by the dead still eyes of the recently departed--what if they liked to poke 'em out with some stoney object they ma
  • How about giant chickens? :P

Mr. Cole's Axiom: The sum of the intelligence on the planet is a constant; the population is growing.

Working...