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Jul 07 2014

Fossil of Largest Bird on the Planet Discovered

Bones recently unearthed in South Carolina prove the existence of the largest bird to ever fly over the planet. With an estimated wing-span of nearly 24 feet, this condor would have to get a running start before flight, much like an airplane because its wings were so lengthy.

prehistoric condor

Bearing an approximate weight of 180 pounds, the bird must have had some large flappers to keep all of that weight in the air. Named the Pelagornis Sandersi, this creature was estimated to have lived over 25 million years ago. Millions of years after dinosaurs died, but long before human life came into existence. Scientists were surprised by the well-preserved state of the fossils left by the subject. It is considered a rarity because the bones of this species are so thin.

The Great Albatross has one of the largest wing-spans of any bird today with a length of 11 feet, and the bald eagle comes in second with a span of 8 feet. The wing-spans of these two birds combined hardly even come close to the measure of the prehistoric condor.

wingspans

The wings of this bird enabled it to be a very efficient flyer. Soaring over the ocean, this condor could achieve great distance and speed. Occasionally swooping down to feed on animals, like squid and eel, the condor caught air currents that took it for miles and miles.

Because of previous studies that claimed that 15 feet was the maximum wingspan for birds to fly, researchers determined that this species had to take off with running start. The Pelagornis Sandersi is believed to be an ancestor of the stork and pelican family. This was determined by its size and recognizable beak.

Named in honor of the curator at Charleston Museum, who was also the lead digger of the fossil, it is currently housed in the establishment in South Carolina.