Monday, June 21, 2010

Magnificent Argentine Bird

Argentavis magnificens is the largest flying bird ever discovered... but it died out about 6 million years ago. The name that I  listed in the title of this post is a basic translation from the Latin of its binomial name, which was bestowed upon the creature after its discovery in 1980. With a wingspan of roughly 25 feet, a length of 11 feet from beak to tail, and 60 inch long flight feathers, magnificent certainly seems to fit.

Despite  its huge wings and flight feathers, it is speculated that magnificens was unable to truly fly. It weighed around 150lbs, making it difficult to take off. Instead, the birds most likely had  to run downhill into a headwind, which would then lift them up and allow them to glide. Gliding is a trait common in many modern species of  raptor, especially the condor, who have the  some of the largest wingspans of any living birds and are excellent soarers. The estimated glide speed for magnificens is 67kph (or about 41mph for those who are metrically challenged like I am.) Their estimated dive speed is 241kph. (150mph)

Image from Playpen
Fossils of the bird have been found in three separate sites in Argentina. Full skeletons have not been found, but finds including humerus bones and skull fragments have allowed scientists to come to good conclusions about the size and structure of these giant birds. Magnificens is part of an overall group of large birds known as Teratorns, all of which have been extinct for at least the last 10,000 years. The birds were all carnivorous hunters, most likely consuming small to medium sized mammals, reptiles, and other birds. It is believed that magnificens had a long life span due to its size, and probably did not even reach maturity until around 10 years of age.

Edit (9-19-10) For another really awesome gigantic bird, check out the newly discovered Pelagornis chilensis!


  1. damnnnnnnnn thats a big bird!!!!!!!!!

  2. This is a spectacular animals! It is incledible that it has existed.

  3. Holly s**t it's huge

  4. I want to know more about this awesome bird. Please send any documentary film links to my email address

  5. I don't think the condor has the largest wingspan. That title belongs to the Wandering Albatross.

    1. Sorry, that was worded wrong. Was supposed to refer to the Condor as the Raptor with the largest wingspan, not overall bird.

  6. i swear i have seen this kind of bird in 2000 or 2011 when i was 11 yo. I was bicycling around my neighborhood in Pekanbaru, Indonesia and i saw this bird flying over the sky. I tried to follow but i couldnt keep up. Now I am 21 years old and still believe what i saw when i was a kid. No joke, i am an intelligent young adult now!

  7. Hide your dogs and cats cause if that thing was still alive it wont be after critters.


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