Palaeotis was an early relative of modern-day ostriches that lived during the Eocene period of Europe. Several specimens have been found and, since they differed in size, they are thought to be sexually dimorphic. Palaeotis had relatively large wings compared to other ratite-species and a slender beak, which was probably used for hunting insects and smaller reptiles. Germany was covered in subtropical forests during the Eocene and the area where Palaeotis has been found was a large caldera filled with water. It is thought that sometimes large concentrations of gas were released which killed many animals living around the lake and were later preserved in the mud on the bottom of the caldera.
Palaeotis weigelti is the only species within its genus and was firstly discovered by Lambrecht in 1928. He thought it was an early relative of modern-day bustards and therefore called it Palaeotis, meaning “Ancient bustard”. The placing of Palaeotis within the ostrich family is still being discussed. Other scientists believe that Palaeotis is part of a side branch of early ratites and isn’t a direct ancestor of modern-day ostriches.
Mayr, G. (2015). The middle Eocene European “ratite” Palaeotis (Aves, Palaeognathae) restudied once more. Paläontologische Zeitschrift, 89(3), 503-514.