The Pelagornis, with a wingspan of 5m, was the largest flying animal to exist on Earth after the extinction of pterosaurs 65 million years ago.
Dated to five million years old, the fossil leg bone discovered in Beaumaris Bay in Melbourne, Victoria, by palaeontologist Erich Fitzgerald from Museum Victoria, gives new insight into the evolution of seabirds in Australia.
“The longest wing feathers [of Pelagornithids] should have been well over a meter long! These lightly built superbirds should have weighed 50 kilograms. These avian giants came close to matching the biggest marine pterosaurs in wingspan and especially in heft. Pseudodontorns further mimicked [(some)] giant pterosaurs by retaining the long jaws and necks with which to snatch up sea life while on the wing."
Michael Habib has subsequently written in an abstract for a 2006 symposium dedicated to the Calvert Marine Museum’s fossil club that
“Despite their impressive size and extreme adaptations for soaring, little work has been done on the flight performance of pseudodontorns. I have used anatomical information from Miocene pseudodontorns, along with methods from mechanical engineering, to estimate body weight, flight speed, and launch ability in large pseudodontorn birds. Pseudodontorns would have been champion gliders, exceeding even modern albatrosses in their average soaring speeds. Previous estimates of body weight are likely too low; pesudodontorns were probably heavier and faster than earlier estimates have suggested.”
Edited by Saru, 04 December 2012 - 09:16 PM.
Trimmed for length