Named By: P. Rich - 1979.
Classification: Chordata, Aves, Anseriformes, Dromornithidae.
Species: B. planei (type).
Diet: Probably carnivorous.
Size: Up to 2.5 meters tall. Estimated weight of 250 kg.
Known locations: Australia, Northern Territory, Bullock Creek - Camfield Beds Formation.
Time period: Langhian of the Miocene.
Fossil representation: Skull.
the name actually means 'ox bird', Bullockornis
is better known
in popular culture as the 'Demon duck of doom'. This is in part
because Bullockornis is thought to be more closely
related to ducks and
geese than any other group of birds. Although Bullockornis
without doubt a large bird, it was not named for being the size of an
ox but instead for being discovered in Bullock Creek.
Bullockornis is thought to have been a carnivore, an idea that is based upon the sharp beak that could have easily sliced through flesh. No one is certain what kind of animals Bullockornis preferred, but its large size meant that only the largest of animals could avoid being off the menu. Conversely however the group that Bullockornis belongs too, the Dromornithidae, all have sharp shearing beaks, but may have actually used these beaks for cropping vegetation. Another depiction of the group is that they may have been opportunistic omnivores that had no preference for either meat or plants.
Bullockornis is a good example of the Australian megafauna of the Miocene period, but it was not the only large bird from Australia with Dromornis and Genyornis also being quite well known.
- The Dromornithidae, an extinct family of large ground birds endemic to Australia - Bureau of National Resources, Geology and Geophysics Bulletin 184: 1–196. - Patricia Vickers-Rich - 1979.