Biggest Flying Bird Fossils Rediscovered
Ellisha Rader Mannering
We know that giant animals once ruled the earth, but thankfully they no longer do and the only traces left of them are fossils which are dug up every now and then.
Anytime a fossil of a prehistoric animal is found, it’s big news, but especially when the fossils belong to the world’s biggest flying bird.
The Pelagornis sandersi was a giant bird with a wingspan of 21 feet across.
The royal albatross is one of the largest living birds capable of flying and their wingspans measure about half of the Pelagornis sandersi’s.
In addition to having large wings, the Pelagornis sandersi had large cone-shaped teeth that stuck out from its beak.
— WorldScienceFestival (@WorldSciFest) July 8, 2014
The fossils of the large bird were originally found in 1983 near Charleston Airport in South Carolina. They had been hidden in a desk at the Charleston Museum until recently when study author Daniel Ksepka, a paleontologist at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, came across them about three decades later.
“I was not expecting this bird when I went down there,” said Ksepka.
The Pelagornis sandersi is believed to have lived between 25 million to 28 million years ago. It is believed to be bigger than any other large birds capable of flight during that time. Large birds were common millions of years ago, but scientists are curious as to how they got off the ground.
Scientists hope that the fossils will help them understand how large and heavy birds are capable of flight.
Ksepka said. “It’s just another example where the fossil record can tell us something about biology that we might not be able to know from what we have around today.”
What do you think of the newly discovered giant bird?
Images via YouTube