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Sep 22, 2014

Largest flying bird ever?

Illustration by Liz Bradford/PA
I just came across an online article, by Nishad Karim at, that appeared almost three months ago, about fossilized bones discovered during an airport terminal expansion near Charleston, S.C. airport in 1983. The prehistoric bird had a wingspan between 6.1 and 7.4 metres which is double that of the Royal Albatross, the world's largest flying bird alive.   30 years passed before the full importance of the fossil remains were fully realized.   The name of the bird is Pelagornis sandersi.   
Illustration by Liz Bradford/PNAS
In the illustration above, the skeletal reconstruction of Pelagornis sandersi is compared with a California Condor (lower left) and Royal Albatross (lower right) for purposes of scale.   The remains of the bird included its skull, shoulder blade, hollow leg and wing bones.   Extrapolations of the mass, wingspan and wing shape from the fossilized bones were fed into a computer to estimate the size of the bird and how it may have flown.   The computer model showed the creature was an extremely efficient glider.   It was estimated to have lived 25 million years ago.

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