Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Big bird

After the dinosaurs went extinct 65 million years ago, giant birds took to the skies and were extant until a few million years ago. The seabirds, found on every continent, were characterized by their large size, highly modified wing bones, and beaks lined with bony tooth-like spikes (IMAGE ABOVE, MORE IMAGES HERE). North Carolina State University paleontologist Daniel Ksepka has studied the remains of a species discovered when the Charleston, N.C., U.S., airport added a new terminal to determine how the ungainly creature could fly. He compares its flight to the albatross and declares the Pelagornis sandersiwith a wingspan of up to 24' (6.4 m) – to have been the largest volant (flying) bird. Ksepka describes, "Anyone with a beating heart would have been struck with awe. This bird would have just blotted out the sun as it swooped overhead. Up close, it may have called to mind a dragon."

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