Paleontologists have identified the fossilized partial skeleton, a new species of bird that lived and became extinct 25 million years ago. Named Archaehierax sylvestris, it is the world’s oldest eagle-like raptor. It has a foot span of about 15 cm / 6 inches / s which helps in catching large prey. Larger herds of animals living at that time were about the size of a small dog or cat, so they were able to hunt and maintain their dominance.
Sixty-three bones of Archaehierax sylvestris were obtained from late oligocene sediments in southern Australia. The falcons were at the top of the food chain at the time. The number of falcons was small and therefore rarely preserved as fossils. Fossil bones of falcons were rarely found. The environment in Australia during the Oligocene was much rounder than it is today. Fossil reveals that Archaehierax wings were small and adapted to enclosed forests / flight. Paleontologists call it the ambush hunter.
The findings were published in the journal Historical Biology.