Scientists find fossils of largest flying bird ever

By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer

fossil diagram
A size comparison of the mega bird to modern ones.

It’s a bird… it’s a plane… it’s Superma… no wait, it’s just a really giant bird! Scientists have recently revealed the fossils of what might be the largest flying bird ever, called the Pelagornis sandersi, and it had a massive wingspan of 20-24 feet.

Even though this bird was enormous, it had paper-thin hollow bones and thin wings that likely let it stay in the sky without flapping for a long time. However, it probably had to take a running start to lift off, and researchers believe it may have even had to run downhill into favorable winds before soaring. You know, kind of like human hang gliders do!

The beast lived 25-28 million years ago, and was actually first unearthed 31 years ago by construction workers at an airport in South Carolina. It wasn’t until this past week, though, that the findings were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences academic journal. They found a complete skull, along with several leg and wing bones at the site, and they’re now being kept at the Charleston Museum.

Featured image courtesy of Liz Bradford.