Fossil Bird Has Biggest Wingspan

Attention: open in a new window. PDFPrintE-mail

Fossil bird has biggest wingspan, according to Society of Vertebrate Palaeontology (SVP) Press Release, Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 2010; 30 (5): 1313 and articles in ABC News in Science and ScienceDaily, 19 Sept 2010. Palaeontologists have found a fossil bird that has the biggest wingspan for any known bird. The bird has been named Pelagornis chilensis and had a wingspan of at least 5.2 m (17 ft). Bird bones are thin and fragile, so many bird fossils are crushed and fragmentary, and accurately estimating size is difficult. The new fossil is 70% complete and uncrushed so that researchers could get a good estimate of its size.

According to SVP “Knowledge of the maximum size that can be reached by a flying bird is important for understanding the physics behind how birds fly. This new fossil may therefore help scientists better appreciate physical and anatomical constraints in very large birds.” The fossil bird is estimated at weighing between 15.6kg and 28.6 kg. This puts it into a similar range with the mute swan, the heaviest living flying bird, whose males can be up to 20kg. Even though the fossil bird has considerably larger wingspan than a mute swan, its bones are very thin and its wings long and narrow.

Gerald Mayr, a palaeornithologist at the Senckenberg Research Institute and Natural History Museum in Germany, who studied the fossil explained its large size: "Most likely, evolution of such large sizes was to avoid competition with other birds. Birds with such a large size can, of course, sail across huge distances and may more easily find prey in the open ocean." The bird also had a large beak with many spikes called pseudoteeth along its edges. Gerald Mayr commented: “Bird watching in Chile would be thrilling if birds with more than five meter wingspans and huge pseudoteeth were still alive.” Mayr suggests our distant human ancestors may have even watched these enormous birds in action. Fossils suggest birds of the Pelagornis family lived in North Africa during the Pliocene Era. Mayr stated: "If early humans, such as Australopithecines or Homo erectus, lived in Morocco by that time and went to the sea, they would have seen these birds."

ABC, ScienceDaily

Editorial Comment: Now put on Biblical glasses and realise that the earliest humans could have gone bird watching for Pelagornis and other large birds, and would have had no fear of them. The earliest humans were Adam and Eve and they inhabited a world that was very good, where no bird or animal would attack human beings or other birds and animals. (See Genesis 1-3).

Notice the evolutionary story about how the bird got to be this size due to the fact that its large size and pseudoteeth would be an advantage when looking for food over the ocean. The problem with this non-explanation is that it neither explains how the bird got to be that size nor how it could have evolved from another kind of bird. Furthermore, if it was such an advantage, how come the bird is extinct? Genesis is a better explanation: In the beginning God created birds as fully formed creatures according to their kinds. They lived in a world that seemed to have a better atmosphere for large flying creatures, such as pterosaurs, giant birds and giant insects. After Noah’s Flood the environment became harsher, food scarcer and the atmosphere no longer supported large flying creatures. Therefore, this giant bird went the same way as many other giant creatures. (Ref. ornithology, aves, flight)

Evidence News 27 Oct 2010