Newfound biggest bird ever was 'more like a dragon'

It didn't breathe fire so far as we know, but when the newly dubbed species Pelagornis sandersi flapped its massive wings 25 million years ago, it would have been quite a sight.

khaleesi.jpg
Keep this lady away from any eggs of this new species, please. Video screenshot by Michael Franco/CNET

A newly named giant species of bird had a 20-foot wingspan roughly equal to that of the earliest fighter planes when it cruised the skies of our planet roughly 25 million years ago. Fortunately, that's more than 20 million years before our earliest tool-using hominid ancestors hit the scene, but the flying beast with its spike-filled mouth would leave you thinking you've been transported to Westeros should you somehow see one in the flesh (or your nightmares).

Details of the species, dubbed Pelagornis sandersi, were first published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences by Daniel Ksepka from his time at North Carolina State University's National Evolutionary Synthesis Center. The fossil was originally unearthed in the 1980s during the construction of an airport in Charleston, S.C. -- Ksepka's paper is the first to describe the shape, size, and flight abilities of the extinct bird.

"It's so spectacularly weird," Ksepka told USA Today. "(The bird) is more like a dragon out of the 'Game of Thrones' show than anything alive today."

In addition to having a wingspan as wide as a bus -- double the size of the current-day champion albatross -- it would have been a master glider capable of soaring long distances and terrifying all sorts of small prehistoric game that it cast a shadow upon in the process.

There have been no reported findings of any fossilized eggs related to the new species, but should they surface, let's please be sure to keep them away from any beautiful blond women who go by "Khaleesi."

 

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