The Bearded Vulture is patchily distributed in rocky, mountainous areas across northern, eastern and southern Africa as well as central Asia and southern Europe. A large portion of this huge bird's diet is made up of bones, and it habitually drops large ones in order to break them open and gain access to the marrow inside. It is believed that the Greek poet Aeschylus was killed by a tortoise dropped in this manner by a Bearded Vulture. This species faces pressure from habitat loss and Human persecution, and its numbers are decreasing throughout its range, especially in Europe, where it is considered "Near Threatened" by the IUCN. Its closest relative is the smaller Egyptian Vulture. It is also probably related to the unusual Palm Nut Vulture and the Madagascan Serpent Eagle.