Scientists have identified the fossil of a giant bird that lived about 50 million years ago, with wingspans of up to 21 feet that would dwarf today’s largest bird, the wandering albatross.The fossils recovered from Antarctica in the 1980s represent the oldest giant members of an extinct group of birds that patrolled the southern oceans.By comparison, today’s largest bird, the wandering albatross has a wingspan of 11 and-a-half-foot.Called Pelagornithids, the birds filled a niche much like that of today’s albatrosses and travelled widely over Earth’s oceans for at least 60 million years.Also read: 127-million-year-old baby bird fossil sheds light on avian evolutionThough a much smaller pelagornithid fossil dates from 62 million years ago, one of the newly described fossils — a 50 million-year-old portion of a bird’s foot — shows that the larger pelagornithids arose just after life rebounded from the mass extinction 65 million years ago, when the relatives of birds, the dinosaurs, went extinct. This five-inch segment of fossilized jaw, which was discovered in Antarctica in the 1980s, dates from 40 million years ago. The skull of the bird would have been about two feet long, while the pseudoteeth, which were originally covered with horny keratin, would have… Read full this story
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