Zee Media Bureau
Washington: A fossil found three decades ago in the US may have been the world`s largest ever flying bird, say researchers.
With 20-24-foot wingspan, scientists believe the fossilized remains of the extinct giant was twice the size of today`s largest flying bird, the wandering albatross.
The creature, which scientists called Pelagornis sandersi, has also surpassed size estimates based on wing bones from the previous record holder i.e. a long-extinct bird named Argentavis magnificens.
Author Dan Ksepka of the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center in Durham, North Carolina, said the upper wing bone alone was longer than his arm.
The strikingly well-preserved specimen consisted of multiple wing and leg bones and a complete skull.
Ksepka`s simulations suggested that the bird`s long, slender wings made it an incredibly efficient glider and by riding on air currents that rise up from the ocean`s surface, P. sandersi was able to soar for miles over the open ocean without flapping its wings, occasionally swooping down to the water to feed on soft-bodied prey like squid and eels.
The study has been published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
(With Agency Inputs)