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Argentavis magnificens Unseated

from The Washington Post

A newly declared species may be the largest flying bird to ever live

An artist’s drawing of the newly named species Pelagornis sandersi shows the discovered bone fragments in white. The strikingly well-preserved specimen consisted of multiple wing and leg bones and a complete skull. (Liz Bradford)

By Rachel Feltman

When South Carolina construction workers came across the giant, winged fossil at the Charleston airport in 1983, they had to use a backhoe to pull the bird, which lived about 25 million years ago, up from the earth.

But if the bird was actually a brand-new species, researchers faced a big question: Could such a large bird, with a wingspan of 20 to 24 feet, actually get off the ground? After all, the larger the bird, the less likely its wings are able to lift it unaided.

The answer came from Dan Ksepka, paleontologist and science curator at the Bruce Museum in Greenwich, Conn. He modeled a probable method of flight for the long-extinct bird, named as a new species this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. If Ksepka’s simulations are correct, Pelagornis sandersi could be the largest airborne bird ever discovered.

[ click to continue reading at WaPo ]

Posted on July 7, 2014 by Editor

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