For a while Argentavis magnificens was considered the largest flying bird to ever roam on earth. The ranking has changed due to a new discovery. In 1983 the remains of what is now classified as the largest flying bird ever were unearthed during the construction of Charleston International Airport in South Carolina. After careful measurements, scientists proclaim that the wingspan of Pelagornis sandersi could have reached almost 24 feet. In comparison, the present largest flying bird is the Royal Albatross. The fossil’s name, Pelagornis sandersi, is a tribute to retired curator Albert Sanders from Charleston Museum. Recently, a new flying reptile fossils have been discovered too.
The extremely large wingspan of Pelagornis sandersi makes the scientists believe that the largest flying bird was adventuring across the oceans while searching for prey. Spikes shaped like teeth were probably the main attack weapon. Probably the dimension was a huge defensive advantage, if any other animal would have dared to attack it. But it did come with a number of disadvantages. Such a large wingspan probably forced the largest flying bird to think twice about where to land and from where to take off.
Largest flying bird probably had troubles during take off
Dan Ksepka is a paleontologist and science curator working at Bruce Museum in Greenwich. He modeled the largest flying bird to test various flying scenarios. What bothered him was if the bird was even able to fly at all. The wings probably required a tremendous amount of energy and balance. Similarly to the present day Royal Albatross, most of the in-air time for Pelagornis sandersi was presumably spent gliding for miles and miles over the sea. The takeoff must have been achieved using two combined methods. One was running down-hill for a short while, and the second involved assessing and taking advantage of winds.
The creature’s teeth are a source of surprise for the scientist. “They don’t have enamel, they don’t grow in sockets, and they aren’t lost and replaced throughout the creature’s lifespan,” Dan Ksepka declares. “Instead, the bone just extends from the jaw.” The fossil was found on dry land, but the area was not dry millions of years ago. Because of higher average temperatures, the ocean covered what is now South Carolina.
The Pelagornis sandersi is argued to be the largest flying bird to ever roam on Earth, but it is not the biggest animal to have ever flown. Pterodactyls were even larger, with wingspans up to 35 feet. But the pterodactyls were flying reptiles, not birds.