World’s largest-ever flying bird has just been discovered, with a wingspan was about 24 feet long, as big as small plane.
An illustration of the new fossil species Pelagornis sandersi. Credit: Liz Bradford.
The giant bird, Pelagornis sandersi, is twice as big as anything that can fly today.
The long-extinct big bird, described in the latest issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, took off from the site in Charleston, S.C., 25 to 28 million years ago.
Study author Daniel Ksepka, a paleontologist and curator of science at the Bruce Museum in Greenwich, Connecticut, said:
“It’s a really remarkable species. It really pushes the limits of how big we think flying birds can get. Getting a chance to add something like this to the avian evolutionary tree is really exciting.
It’s disputed how large Argentavis’ wingspan was — we only have one wing bone for it. We think the wingspan of Argentavis’ skeleton was a bit under 4 meters (13.1 feet), while the skeletal wingspan of P. sandersi was about 5.2 meters (17 feet). Now both of their wingspans would be longer once feathers are taken into account, but P. sandersi would still probably be larger than Argentavis.”