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Study: Fossil soaring bird had huge wingspan

Wednesday - 7/9/2014, 4:04pm  ET

In this undated image provided by Daniel Ksepka via the Bruce Museum, Daniel Ksepka, curator of Science at the Bruce Museum in Greenwich, Conn., studies the skull of Pelagornis sandersi, identified by Ksepka as the largest-ever flying bird. The giant bird's skeleton was discovered in 1983 near Charleston, but its first formal description was released Monday, July 7, 2014 by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. It had an estimated wingspan of around 21 feet, about the height of a giraffe. (AP Photo/Courtesy Daniel Ksepka via Bruce Museum)

MALCOLM RITTER
AP Science Writer

NEW YORK (AP) -- A fossil found in South Carolina has revealed a gigantic bird that apparently snatched fish while soaring over the ocean some 25 million to 28 million years ago.

Its estimated wingspan of around 21 feet is bigger than the height of a giraffe.

The skeleton was discovered in 1983 near the Charleston airport, but its first formal description was released Monday by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Daniel Ksepka (SEP'-kuh) of the Bruce Museum in Greenwich, Connecticut, who wrote the paper, said the creature probably did not land on water. And it was apparently clumsy on land.

The bird is named Pelagornis sandersi (peh-leh-GOR'-niss SAN'-der-sy). The name honors a retired Charleston museum curator who recovered the fossil.

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Online:

Journal: http://www.pnas.org


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