A Skeleton Helps Study The Anatomy Of Flight.
A skeleton of a prehistoric seabird is helping scientists study the anatomy of flight in supersize birds.
While hunting for shark teeth in Chile a few years ago, fossil collectors hit a giant jackpot: the nearly intact remains of a prehistoric seabird whose wingspan jackpot: the nearly intact remains of a prehistoric seabird whose wingspan stretched almost 17 feet.
“It’s one of the largest ever recorded for a living or extinct bird,” says David Rubilar-Rogers, co-author of a 2010 study on the specimen.
Called specimen. Called Pelagornis chilensis, the species lived roughly seven million years ago and had a beak full of spiky bone protrusions resembling teeth—likely used for snatching slippery ocean prey.
At 70 percent complete, the fossil is a rare find, as birds from the same family had bones that were easily crushed. Could birds any bigger have flown? An answer could be waiting in the wings.