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Earth Science

Ancient Bird With Largest Wingspan Yet Discovered 55

sciencehabit writes Fossils unearthed at a construction project in South Carolina belong to a bird with the largest wingspan ever known, according to a new study. The animal measured 6.4 meters from wingtip to wingtip, about the length of a 10-passenger limousine and approaching twice the size of the wandering albatross, today's wingspan record-holder. Like modern-day albatrosses, the newly described species would have been a soaring champ.
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Ancient Bird With Largest Wingspan Yet Discovered

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  • additional info (Score:5, Informative)

    by kruach aum ( 1934852 ) on Monday July 07, 2014 @04:52PM (#47402735)

    It's called Pelagornis sandersi, and it lived between 25 and 28 million years ago.

    • is that Latin for South Carolina Gamecocks? (yes, that is the university's mascot)
  • by TWX ( 665546 ) on Monday July 07, 2014 @04:55PM (#47402773)
    With that kind of size and that slow of flight, it's no wonder it fell to ancient flak guns. Too easy to hit!
  • That's 21 feet, for those of you in the States.

  • by BlackPignouf ( 1017012 ) on Monday July 07, 2014 @05:41PM (#47403127)

    The length of a 10-passenger limousine

    Wow, that's like 50 Olympic-size swimming pools per micro-Wales!

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I'm wondering why people who write articles feel compelled to translate easily understood units into non-comparable units. Today it's a bird the size of a dinosaur. Yesterday, it was a subway car as unit of distance.

      • Today it's a bird the size of a dinosaur.

        birds *are* dinosaurs.

        • no they are not, don't get carried away by romantic notions of a geek cartoonist. []

          Several major physiological differences are: birds have very light skull relative to body compared to dinosaurs' massive one, birds have no teeth or tail

          • by tragedy ( 27079 )

            That's not really just an idea from xkcd. Modern taxonomists group birds within the clade Dinosauria. Also, birds have tails, even if they're short. The tomia of a number of birds are also very toothlike. A number of dinosaurs, such as T. Rex had all kinds of adaptations to make their skulls lighter relative to their bodies.

            • by Sique ( 173459 )
              Right. Crocodiles, Birds, Pterosaurs and Dinosaurs all belong to the Archosauria, of which the crocodiles together with some extinct groups form the Crurotarsi, while the three others are grouped together into the Ornithodira. This group is then split into the Pterosaurs and Dinosaurs, the later include today's Aves (birds).
            • Being in a clade (ancestor and all its descendants) of Dinosauria is another matter, birds are descended from dinosaurs but are not dinosaurs

              • by tragedy ( 27079 )

                It all depends on exactly which definition of "dinosaur" you use. Many, if not most, modern palaeontologists consider birds to be dinosaurs. Even if you use the traditional definition of dinosaur that restricts them to the Mesozoic, there were birds during the Jurassic and Cretaceous, so you would be saying that birds who didn't survive the era were dinosaurs, but those that did aren't. Which would make it weird for any bird species that survived unchanged well past the extinction. Would that single species

                • how silly, humans are not apes either. there are ancestors of humans which were apes, there are apes now that are unchanged for millions of years

      • by Anonymous Coward

        The hack is probably paid by the of word.

        Heck, my dad had a 1971 Cadillac Coupe Deville and I had a 1962 Cadillac Coupe that were both nearly 20 feet long. A 10-passenger limousine that's only 21 feet long _feels_ like it would be pretty small as limousines go; more like four or six passengers if I had to guess.

        Bad comparison is bad.

    • The length of a 10-passenger limousine

      Wow, that's like 50 Olympic-size swimming pools per micro-Wales!

      Clod, that is a dimensionless number. Did you mean micro-Waleses per Nelson's Columns?

      • No, I really meant swimming pools (volume) per micro-Wales (area).

  • I've been googling but can only seem to find artists' renditions. Does anyone have a link to any photos of the fossils?
  • How did it taste? Like chicken?
  • I was on a trip in the California desert and saw some fossil bones eroding along a trail while hiking with a group of rock hounds. I was going to return to the site to examine or dig up the bones but another person did so. A radius and ulna.
  • A 6.4 metre wingspan is pretty impressive, but some of the pterosaurs were considerably larger. [] had a wingspan of 10-11 metres and [] was about the same size.

  • Based on the evidence left behind, one of the bloody things flew over my car just this morning.

  • Wilmaaaaaaaaa!

  • As far as I know the largest ever measured wingspan of an albatross was 3.2 meters, 3.5 meters so far are unconfirmed. But the Dalmatian pelican (Pelecanus crispus) has a confirmed wingspan of up to 3.45 metres, making it the recent bird with the largest wingspan. (The heaviest flying bird seems to be the Great bustard (Otis tarda), with up to 21 kilograms.)

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