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Fossil range: Late Paleocene-Eocene
Gastornis fossil skeleton
Gastornis fossil skeleton
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Anseriformes or Gastornithiformes
Family: Gastornithidae
Hébert, 1855
  • Gastornis
  • Zhongyuanus
  • Omorhamphus

Gastornis is an extinct genus of large flightless birds that lived during the late Paleocene and Eocene periods of the Cenozoic. Gastornis lived in Europe, but it had an extremely close relative in North America; the North American bird is often called Diatryma (DIE-a-TREE-ma), but experts now believe they both belong in the Gastornis genus.

Gastornis measured on average 1.75m tall, while "Diatryma" was 2m tall. It had a remarkably huge beak, which may mean that it was carnivorous (although the beak may simply have been used for sexual display and probably was better suited for crushing than for tearing or cutting action). Similar (but unrelated) gigantic birds were the Phorusrhacoids with South American origin and the Australian Dromornithidae (Genyornis). The former were certainly and the latter possibly carnivorous.

The closest living relatives of Gastornis are the Anseriformes, which includes waterfowl and screamers. In fact, gastornithids might well be anseriforms themselves.

Gastornis's name means 'Gaston's bird'; it is named after Gaston Planté, who discovered the first fossils at Geiseltal, Germany.

Gastornis appeared in the CGI series Walking with Beasts. It also made an appearance in the 2006 CGI family film Ice Age: The Meltdown.


  • Hébert, E. (1855): Note sur le tibia du Gastornis parisiensis. C.R. Acad. Sc. Paris 40: 579-582. [Article in French]

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