The Tech - Online EditionMIT's oldest and largest
newspaper & the first
newspaper published
on the web
Boston Weather: 23.0°F | Mostly Cloudy

Briefs (right)

Fossils Found of a Big Bird
That Kermit Wouldn’t Like

By John Noble Wilford

Fossils of the largest known bird, an extinct flightless predator with a skull the size of a horse’s and a menacing beak like an eagle’s, have been discovered in Argentina, paleontologists reported last week.

The bird, which stood about 10 feet tall and probably weighed 400 pounds, was fleet of foot and able to chase down and devour rodents, reptiles and small mammals 15 million years ago on the plains of Patagonia. Not for nothing are its closely related species, a group known as phorusrhacids, more commonly called the “terror birds.”

Such avian giants evolved and prospered in the time of South America’s total isolation from other continents. All of these birds were apparently flightless, and most of them ate only plants. Until now, the only known species of carnivorous terror birds averaged 5 to 9 feet tall and had relatively small heads.

Paleontologists said the new fossil discovery might force them to reconsider previous ideas that the terror birds that evolved the biggest bodies were significantly slower runners.

“This is not only the largest bird ever found,” said Luis M. Chiappe, curator of vertebrate paleontology at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. “It also tells us the idea we have heard and repeated over the years may not be entirely valid.”

New York May Ask
Restaurants to List Calories

By Thomas J. Lueck

Without a doubt not all diners who order a Burger King Whopper or a Domino’s pepperoni pizza or a Taco Bell chalupa really want to know exactly how many calories they are consuming. Whatever the amount, it is probably more than they should be eating.

But the New York City Board of Health, the city’s powerful arbiter of public health rules, is considering a plan to make it much harder to avoid the cold, hard numbers by requiring some of New York’s 20,000 restaurants, including outlets of the nation’s fast-food chains, to list calories on menus and on clearly displayed menu boards.

The idea is to give diners a dose of reality along with their fries.

The proposal was lost amid the other much splashier recommendation the board is considering to prohibit the city’s restaurants from serving food containing more than a tiny amount of trans fats, the chemically modified ingredients considered by doctors and nutritionists to increase the risk of heart disease.

But the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene is also intent on creating the nation’s most rigorous system of calorie disclosure in restaurants. It is intended to combat what is widely regarded as an epidemic of obesity, aggravated for the city’s 8 million residents by their relianceon restaurant meals and take-out food.