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Ancient Bird With Largest Wingspan Yet Discovered

samzenpus posted about 4 months ago | from the we're-going-to-need-more-seed dept.

Earth 55

sciencehabit writes Fossils unearthed at a construction project in South Carolina belong to a bird with the largest wingspan ever known, according to a new study. The animal measured 6.4 meters from wingtip to wingtip, about the length of a 10-passenger limousine and approaching twice the size of the wandering albatross, today's wingspan record-holder. Like modern-day albatrosses, the newly described species would have been a soaring champ.

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additional info (5, Informative)

kruach aum (1934852) | about 4 months ago | (#47402735)

It's called Pelagornis sandersi, and it lived between 25 and 28 million years ago.

Re:additional info (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47402853)

It likely wouldn't have been able to survive today, due to the increased number of Atlantic Hurricanes and more generally turbulent weather caused by global warming. The albatross could suffer the same fate.

Re:additional info (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47402929)

Lies. We all know that global warming is a myth-- this bird would have been just fine today.

God simply did not wish it to live.

Re:additional info (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47403007)

yeah because the climate 25 million years ago wasn't actually WARMER than it is now, with much higher sea levels, who knows what the weather was like... but the global average temperature was higher than it is now, with a lot less arctic ice...

so IF global warming causes more turbulent weather.... then if the weather is generally hotter than it is currently according to your very skillful diagnosis of the causes of weather patterns, being hotter means more atlantic hurricanes, which means it was doomed from the start...

I love armchair paleoclimatologists... but I must agree that YES it likely wouldn't be able to survive today, being much cooler, food supplies are very different now, i'm sure it would have a much harder time surviving in a completely different climate than what it was adapted to.

Let's Throw AC into the ecosystem 25 million years ago and see how well he survives too...

Re:additional info (1)

djupedal (584558) | about 4 months ago | (#47403389)

I love armchair paleoclimatologists...

I love armchair climatologists.

Re:additional info (4, Funny)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 4 months ago | (#47403571)

I love armchair paleoclimatologists...

I love armchair climatologists.

I love everyone. Give me a hug.

Re:additional info (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47405151)

I would have very much fun not only surviving, but living, and quite well thank you, insensitive clod, 25 million years ago. Give me a break.

Hug! (1)

DrYak (748999) | about 4 months ago | (#47405803)

I love everyone. Give me a hug.

hug!

Re:additional info (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47405815)

I love armchair paleoclimatologists...

I love armchair climatologists.

I love everyone. Give me a hug.

I love this.

Re:additional info (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47407261)

I agree, in my opinion the wings would disintegrate in strong winds. Given the size of the wings they can't be folded close to the body in strong winds (to much force required to move the wings), the only option left is letting the wings be pulled straight back behind the body and hope for the best, realistically they would be shredded by the body turbulence though.
As an experiment, someone (for instance these scientists) should build a 6m wide, 40kg heavy bone kite with feathers and let it catch some wind and see how that goes...

Re:additional info (1)

turkeydance (1266624) | about 4 months ago | (#47403033)

is that Latin for South Carolina Gamecocks? (yes, that is the university's mascot)

Re:additional niggers (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47403041)

finally this is something that is not the fault of the niggers

Frosty p0st for the golden fgirls! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47402769)

The Golden Girls Theme Song
Thank you for being a friend.
Travel down the road and back again.
Your heart is true, you're a pal and a cosomnaut.

And if you threw a party, invited everyone you knew.
You would see the biggest gift would be from me
and the card attached would say, thank you for being a friend.

Frosty p0st for the golden fgirls! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47402789)

LOL, you totally blew it douchbag! Not only was that not a frosty piss, but you forgot to take out the title from where you copied and pasted it from! LOL!

Also, wherever you got it from has a typo. That's supposd too be confidant; not cosmonaught.

No wonder it went extinct (5, Funny)

TWX (665546) | about 4 months ago | (#47402773)

With that kind of size and that slow of flight, it's no wonder it fell to ancient flak guns. Too easy to hit!

Re:No wonder it went NIGGERS! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47403237)

How to fix America: send all the niggers back to Africa with a fucking Baby Boomer in each arm!

21 feet (2)

naff89 (716141) | about 4 months ago | (#47402813)

That's 21 feet, for those of you in the States.

Re:21 feet (4, Funny)

Matheus (586080) | about 4 months ago | (#47402837)

Unneeded... we are all well versed on the length of a 10-passenger limousine.

Re:21 feet (1)

bhlowe (1803290) | about 4 months ago | (#47402873)

In other words, about half as long as the HA-420 Honda personal jet.

Re:21 feet (1)

tomhath (637240) | about 4 months ago | (#47403189)

Nah. About 7 yards (for fans of real football)

Re:21 feet (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47404003)

Are you referring to handegg or soccer?

Re:21 feet (1)

PPH (736903) | about 4 months ago | (#47404033)

That was found in South Carolina. What is it in cubits?

Re:21 feet (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47404257)

If it was found in South Carolina then it doesn't exist, since there is no evolution there.

Re:21 feet (1)

invid (163714) | about 4 months ago | (#47406331)

But can you ride on it?

I bet this is blowing their minds! (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47402915)

I know when I lived there that most people there didn't think animals have gone extinct. They believe that all of the animals that Noah put on the ark are still alive. You have to love anything that makes those xians uncomfortable.

Re:I bet this is blowing their minds! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47403093)

God put it there to test our faith.

Re:I bet this is blowing their minds! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47404279)

I believe the evidence God put there, so I pass the test.

the length of a 10-passenger limousine (2)

BlackPignouf (1017012) | about 4 months ago | (#47403127)

The length of a 10-passenger limousine

Wow, that's like 50 Olympic-size swimming pools per micro-Wales!

Re:the length of a 10-passenger limousine (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47403227)

I'm wondering why people who write articles feel compelled to translate easily understood units into non-comparable units. Today it's a bird the size of a dinosaur. Yesterday, it was a subway car as unit of distance.

Re:the length of a 10-passenger limousine (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47403491)

Really, a "subway car" car length given?
I've been on a subway once or twice, but I really didn't realize that was even any sort of standard.
I know I've heard the "greyhound bus" length used before, but similarly, I don't really know how long a typical bus is.

Re:the length of a 10-passenger limousine (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47404231)

Really, a "subway car" car length given?
I've been on a subway once or twice, but I really didn't realize that was even any sort of standard.

Yeah, really. So is that Boston Red Line car length or Boston Blue Line car length. London Underground Circle Line car length perhaps? BART car length? Etc., etc., etc.

Dinosaurs like Argentinasaurus, huge; or Velociraptor (the real ones, not the oversized Jurassic Park ones), small – no double there are even smaller ones.

Hey /., enough of the bad comparisons already.

Re:the length of a 10-passenger limousine (2)

jrumney (197329) | about 4 months ago | (#47404389)

Yeah, really. So is that Boston Red Line car length or Boston Blue Line car length. London Underground Circle Line car length perhaps? BART car length?

Quit being so pedantic. It's obvious that they meant one of these [hotfrog.com.au] .

Re:the length of a 10-passenger limousine (1)

farble1670 (803356) | about 4 months ago | (#47403809)

Today it's a bird the size of a dinosaur.

birds *are* dinosaurs.

Re:the length of a 10-passenger limousine (1)

rubycodez (864176) | about 4 months ago | (#47404333)

no they are not, don't get carried away by romantic notions of a geek cartoonist. http://xkcd.com/1211/ [xkcd.com]

Several major physiological differences are: birds have very light skull relative to body compared to dinosaurs' massive one, birds have no teeth or tail

Re:the length of a 10-passenger limousine (2)

tragedy (27079) | about 4 months ago | (#47404857)

That's not really just an idea from xkcd. Modern taxonomists group birds within the clade Dinosauria. Also, birds have tails, even if they're short. The tomia of a number of birds are also very toothlike. A number of dinosaurs, such as T. Rex had all kinds of adaptations to make their skulls lighter relative to their bodies.

Re:the length of a 10-passenger limousine (2)

Sique (173459) | about 4 months ago | (#47405481)

Right. Crocodiles, Birds, Pterosaurs and Dinosaurs all belong to the Archosauria, of which the crocodiles together with some extinct groups form the Crurotarsi, while the three others are grouped together into the Ornithodira. This group is then split into the Pterosaurs and Dinosaurs, the later include today's Aves (birds).

Re:the length of a 10-passenger limousine (1)

rubycodez (864176) | about 4 months ago | (#47411931)

Being in a clade (ancestor and all its descendants) of Dinosauria is another matter, birds are descended from dinosaurs but are not dinosaurs

Re:the length of a 10-passenger limousine (1)

tragedy (27079) | about 4 months ago | (#47416011)

It all depends on exactly which definition of "dinosaur" you use. Many, if not most, modern palaeontologists consider birds to be dinosaurs. Even if you use the traditional definition of dinosaur that restricts them to the Mesozoic, there were birds during the Jurassic and Cretaceous, so you would be saying that birds who didn't survive the era were dinosaurs, but those that did aren't. Which would make it weird for any bird species that survived unchanged well past the extinction. Would that single species be a dinosaur species up to the end of the Mesozoic, but cease to be right at the boundary? Would they just retroactively not be dinosaurs?

Re:the length of a 10-passenger limousine (1)

rubycodez (864176) | about 3 months ago | (#47479879)

how silly, humans are not apes either. there are ancestors of humans which were apes, there are apes now that are unchanged for millions of years

Re:the length of a 10-passenger limousine (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47404119)

The hack is probably paid by the of word.

Heck, my dad had a 1971 Cadillac Coupe Deville and I had a 1962 Cadillac Coupe that were both nearly 20 feet long. A 10-passenger limousine that's only 21 feet long _feels_ like it would be pretty small as limousines go; more like four or six passengers if I had to guess.

Bad comparison is bad.

Re:the length of a 10-passenger limousine (1)

nukenerd (172703) | about 4 months ago | (#47406019)

The length of a 10-passenger limousine

Wow, that's like 50 Olympic-size swimming pools per micro-Wales!

Clod, that is a dimensionless number. Did you mean micro-Waleses per Nelson's Columns?

Re:the length of a 10-passenger limousine (1)

BlackPignouf (1017012) | about 4 months ago | (#47406239)

No, I really meant swimming pools (volume) per micro-Wales (area).

Re:the length of a 10-passenger limousine (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47407243)

No, I really meant swimming pools (volume) per micro-Wales (area).

I'm not sure why you reference volume and area in regards to a length unit. Volume and area aren't a length. Length is part of the 2, but in it self it is neither.

Re:the length of a 10-passenger limousine (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47408221)

I'm not sure why you reference volume and area in regards to a length unit. Volume and area aren't a length. Length is part of the 2, but in it self it is neither.

Because volume per area *is* length.

Why would you reference length and time in regard to a speed unit? Meters and seconds aren't a speed.
(But meters per second is.)

Re:the length of a 10-passenger limousine (1)

BlackPignouf (1017012) | about 4 months ago | (#47408553)

I agree it's a weird unit, but it kinda makes sense nonetheless :
It's the depth of the water layer that you get when you empty the content of 50 swimming pools on a surface as big as one millionth of Wales.

Photos? (1)

asylumx (881307) | about 4 months ago | (#47403201)

I've been googling but can only seem to find artists' renditions. Does anyone have a link to any photos of the fossils?

What we really want to know... (1)

BenSchuarmer (922752) | about 4 months ago | (#47403365)

How did it taste? Like chicken?

Bones (1)

tquasar (1405457) | about 4 months ago | (#47403507)

I was on a trip in the California desert and saw some fossil bones eroding along a trail while hiking with a group of rock hounds. I was going to return to the site to examine or dig up the bones but another person did so. A radius and ulna.

Largest wingspan for a bird, not largest ever (1)

gadfium (318941) | about 4 months ago | (#47403843)

A 6.4 metre wingspan is pretty impressive, but some of the pterosaurs were considerably larger. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quetzalcoatlus [wikipedia.org] had a wingspan of 10-11 metres and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hatzegopteryx [wikipedia.org] was about the same size.

Re:Largest wingspan for a bird, not largest ever (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47404283)

Not even largest flying bird wingspan: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Argentavis [wikipedia.org] was 7m.

Most of the articles get it wrong, but http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/07/140707-bird-biggest-flight-ancient-wings-charleston-science/ [nationalgeographic.com] notes largest seabird.

Extinct? I think not! (1)

hyades1 (1149581) | about 4 months ago | (#47405211)

Based on the evidence left behind, one of the bloody things flew over my car just this morning.

Yikes! (1)

Tablizer (95088) | about 4 months ago | (#47405465)

Wilmaaaaaaaaa!

I doubt the albatross. (1)

Sique (173459) | about 4 months ago | (#47405595)

As far as I know the largest ever measured wingspan of an albatross was 3.2 meters, 3.5 meters so far are unconfirmed. But the Dalmatian pelican (Pelecanus crispus) has a confirmed wingspan of up to 3.45 metres, making it the recent bird with the largest wingspan. (The heaviest flying bird seems to be the Great bustard (Otis tarda), with up to 21 kilograms.)

Re:I doubt the albatross. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47407025)

But the Dalmatian pelican...

Is half-dog and so does not count.

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