TAXONOMY & NOMENCLATURE * *How Do We Know This? Like living animals, fossil remains of once-living animals
and grouped according to their relationships
each other and to their ancestors.
(Hackett et al 2008) (Miller 1928) (Olson 2007) (Steadman & Martin 1984)
Kingdom: Animalia Phylum: Chordata Class: Aves Order: Falconiformes (diurnal birds of prey; DNA studies say category may need revision) Family: Accipitridae (hawks, eagles, kites, harriers, Old World vultures) Genus:Buteogallus Species:Buteogallus daggetti (extinct)
Taxonomic History and Nomenclature
Until recently, classified as Wetmoregyps daggetti (Miller 1928)
Called the "walking eagle" for its
very long slender legs
Restudied and assigned to the genus Buteogallus
Resembles closely the modern Savanna Hawk (Buteogallus meridionalis) but is 40% larger
There are two major lineages of modern birds: palaeognathae and neognathae
(Hackett et al 2008)
Palaeognathae birds include the ratites such as the rhea and tinamous
The category Neognathae includes all other birds
Neognathae birds existed in the Cretaceous, by at least 70 million years ago (Dingus and Rowe 1998)
Predatory hawks, falcons, and owls had probably diverged from other neognaths in the Cretaceous (Dingus and Rowe 1998)
The Daggett's Eagle became extinct along with several other large predatory birds like Teratornis by about 13,000 years ago.
DISTRIBUTION & HABITAT * *How Do We Know This? Scientists use knowledge of the earth's rocks, global plate tectonic movements,
and the chemical process of fossilization
to make sense of fossil distribution patterns and ancient habitats.
(Olson 2007)(Brown 1968)
Daggett's Eagle fossils were found at Rancho La Brea and Carpenteria in southern California and in Nuevo Leon, northern Mexico at Josecito Cave
Sea level to 2250 m (7,382 ft)
Open grasslands, marshlands, or savannas with some brush
and ponds (Olson 2007) ( Brown 1968)
PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS* *How Do We Know This? Careful study of fossil bone or tooth anatomy yields much exact information
about placement and strength of muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves, and blood vessels.
In rare cases, skin, hair, or feather impressions or actual tissue is preserved.
Body weight is more difficult to gauge because fat leaves no impression on the skeleton.
(Ferguson-Lees & Christie 2001) (Miller 1915) (Olson 2007)
Estimated Body Weight: 3,000 g ( 6.6 lb) (Olson 2007) Estimated Total Length: 64 - 90 cm ( 31 in) measured from top of head to tip of tail (Olson 2007) (Ferguson-Lees & Christie 2001) Estimated Wingspan:
169 - 196 cm (71 in) measured as natural spread Estimated Tail Length: 26 - 32.2 cm
(11 in) measured from base to tip
A large bird of prey
resembling the modern Savanna Hawk of South America with a body mass slightly greater than that of a African Secretary bird (Olson 2007)
Females presumed slightly larger than males
Other Physical Characteristics
Long slender legs
Probably often used on the ground for walking and securing prey (Miller 1915) (Olson 2007)
Would have looked like "an eagle on stilts" (Miller 1915)
Legs have points of strong muscle attachment far up the shaft of the long tarsus
This reflects reduced lifting capacity, but enhanced walking ability (Miller 1915) (Olson 2007)
BEHAVIOR & ECOLOGY* *How Do We Know This? Since direct observation of a fossil animal's behavior isn't possible, paleontologists
comparison and contrast with living animals for guidance. Tracks can sometimes
reveal further clues.
(Olson 2007) (Steadman & Martin 1984)
The extinction of many large birds of prey, especially scavengers, in the Pleistocene may have been related to extinction of large mammals (no carrion left to feed upon). (Steadman and Martin 1984)
Daggett's Eagles may have been scavengers (Steadman and Martin 1984), although some researchers think a purely scavenging lifestyle is not likely (Olson 2007)
Daggett's Eagles may have depended for habitat on large grazing animals that kept grassland habitats open (Olson 2007)
The Savannah Hawk, which closely resembles the Daggett's Eagle in body proportions, is attracted to the edge of fires as many smaller species
flee (Ferguson-Lees and Christie 2001). Did Daggett's Eagles have the same behavior? (Olson 2007)
DIET & FEEDING* *How Do We Know This? Clues to fossil mammals' diets come from not only teeth, but also skull
shape, body proportions, from fossil dung and gut contents, from lab analysis of oxygen
in bone and teeth, and by looking at
diets of similar modern animals.
(Ferguson-Lees & Christie 2001) (Olson 2007)
Savannah Hawks feed on a variety of small mammals, crabs, amphibians, reptiles and often snakes (Ferguson-Lees and Christie 2001);
Daggett's Eagles may have had a similar diet (Olson 2007)
Long legs (a characteristic of the Daggett's Eagle and the Savannah Hawk) may be, in part, an adaptation for keeping snakes at a safe distance.
REPRODUCTION, DEVELOPMENT, EXTINCTION* *How do We Know This? Isotope studies of elements present fossil bones and tusks in microscopic
about timing of reproductive stress, and timing of nursing in mammals. Clues to stages of
development come from tooth
replacement patterns and closure of sutures in skull and limb bones.
(Steadman & Martin 1984)
Daggett's Eagles became extinct by about 13,000 years ago.
DISEASES AND PATHOLOGY*
*How do We Know This? Abnormalities in fossils bones may show
evidence of arthritis, cancer, nutritional stress, fractures and more.
No known data at present.
Important Web Resources (including where to view fossils in museums):