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Study: Fossil soaring bird had huge wingspan

Mon, 07/07/2014 - 3:20pm
Malcolm Ritter - AP Science Writer - Associated Press
 
              This undated image provided by the Bruce Museum shows a reconstruction image of the world's largest-ever flying bird, Pelagornis sandersi, as identified by Daniel Ksepka, Curator of Science at the Bruce Museum in Greenwich, Conn. The skeleton was discovered in 1983 near Charleston, but its first formal description was released Monday, July 7, 2014, by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The gigantic bird had an estimated wingspan of around 21 feet, about the height of a giraffe. (AP Photo/Bruce Museum, Liz Bradford)

A fossil found in South Carolina has revealed a gigantic bird that apparently snatched fish while soaring over the ocean some 25 million to 28 million years ago.

Its estimated wingspan of around 21 feet is bigger than the height of a giraffe.

The skeleton was discovered in 1983 near the Charleston airport, but its first formal description was released Monday by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Daniel Ksepka (SEP'-kuh) of the Bruce Museum in Greenwich, Connecticut, who wrote the paper, said the creature probably did not land on water. And it was apparently clumsy on land.

The bird is named Pelagornis sandersi (peh-leh-GOR'-niss SAN'-der-sy). The name honors a retired Charleston museum curator who recovered the fossil.

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Online:

Journal: http://www.pnas.org

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