Fossils also have their own stories. Excavation work was taking place at the Charleston airport when someone came across some bones that had surfaced on the ground. So work stopped and the incident was reported to the local museum. The late Al Sanders, a paleontologist at the Charleston Municipal Museum, collected what was found. It was later discovered that the remains were there For the largest flying bird They were deserved, so Sanders had the glory and the right to be named, But he was more interested in whale fossils, so he took the fossil to the museum and hid it. He kept it in a drawer in the museum, at the bottom of a cupboard, for 30 years.
The largest flying bird in the world
The ancient bird, now known to science as Pelagornis sandersi after its discoverer, was a gigantic creature. Its wingspan is twice as wide as that of a large albatross. Scientific American recently introduced the bird as such in a podcastwhich is intended for little-known but large birds.
The birds they want to show are unlike any other, there were some among them that A.A Their beaks were used as axesto kill their prey. These giants were truly colossal, weighing about 8-900 kilograms. Their eggs were about 150 times the size of a hen’s egg. These apex predators devoured animals smaller than horses when they raided the forest. Yet somehow, these special creatures have remained under the radar of paleontology, at least compared to many dinosaurs. However, scientists are learning more about these mysterious winged giants every day.
The bird, which was the largest flying bird with a wingspan of 6 meters, lived in South Carolina 27 million years ago. This is Pelagornis sandersi, which has no simpler or better known name. Finding Pelagornis was down to blind luck. After the fossil was excavated in the 1980s, no one heard of it for many years. Then one day, Al Sanders told ornithologist Daniel Ksepka, Curator of Science at the Bruce Museum, about the bones, who didn’t wait long to start studying them. Ksepka admitted that he, too, did not expect to find the largest bird ever in the drawer, which It wasn’t like anything elsewhich he had seen before.
The oldest flying reptile was found in Australia
Ksepka named it Pelagornis sandersi in honor of Al Sanders, who unwittingly guarded this truly gigantic find. The ornithological paleontologist set out to find out everything he could about this creature. He realized that the bird’s 20-foot wingspan wasn’t the only amazing thing. Not only was the animal large, but it was also strange. His skull was amazing, according to the scientist, because it did not look like a bird at all, in fact it looked like a small crocodile. Its one and a half meter long beak was dotted with tooth-like formations for biting.
These were not like our teeth, which are made of ivory and enamel. But that still makes them bite. They are actually formed from bone, small bone spikes of various sizes. Repeating one small, one large, and one, respectively, produced a wavy pattern that was probably great for grabbing slippery things like fish or squid.
Remains of P. sandersi and their size compared to humans and the largest albatross alive today. / Figure: Daniel T. Ksepka / PNAS / Museum of Charleston
The bird’s shoulder bones were also strange. The creature had a very small shoulder blade, and the shoulder joints and associated bones were unusually shaped. And for this This bird was not really able to raise its wings above its back. It certainly didn’t flutter like a seagull or a songbird. This giant probably spread its 20-foot wingspan and let the wind do the work. It was like a giant dragon. It may have taken to the air by facing the wind or using heights to launch. But once in the air, this bird can potentially fly long distances.
The mass extinction opened the way for the survivors
According to Ksepka, it wouldn’t be surprising if it turns out that Pelagornis can also fly across the Atlantic, stopping in Africa or Europe, and then returning as part of its seasonal migration. So far, this species has only been found in Charleston, but its relatives — the other birds in this “artificial” circle — It has appeared all over the world. Fossils have been found in Antarctica, New Zealand, Washington, Oregon, Europe, Africa and South America. Artifacts are known literally from every continent.
According to Ksepka, the appearance of the pelagornis species group may be related to the disappearance of other strange giant flying creatures. Giant birds came onto the scene in part because A mass extinction Eliminates competition. It wasn’t just the first dinosaurs, reptiles, and birds that became extinct. that way The survivors gained access to previously unavailable resources and ecosystems.
In the first millions of years after the mass extinction, birds made amazing progress. Thus, the ancestors of modern birds could first explore woody habitats, predator-friendly habitats, or aquatic habitats. “They really went a little crazy,” says the researcher. Pelagornis was just the beginning. For example, file Elephant birdswhich could reach a mass of one ton, and was probably the largest bird that ever lived.