Saturday, September 18, 2010

Pelagornis chilensis

Pelagornis chilensis is a large, now extinct bird that once soared the coastal skies. It is believed that they may be a precursor to modern pelicans and stocks. Pelagornis chilensis is one of a handful of species within the genus, and has been the one most in the public eye. Literally last week news reports started to come out about a gigantic prehistoric bird from Chile with a confirmed wingspan of over 17ft. While spans of birds like Argentavis magnificens have been estimated as being larger, due to flight feather length, P. chilensis is confirmed to have longer wing bones.

Image by Carlos Anzures (Source)
Image by Carlos Anzures (Source)
The bird lived between 5 and 10 million years ago, and has a remarkable complete skeleton. Because birds have such fragile frames in order to maintain flight, wing bones were often crushed. This skeleton is 70% complete. It is in fact the most complete fossil bird wing ever excavated.

Another awesome piece of information about P. chilensis? It had teeth.Well, kinda of. P. chilensis had bony psuedoteeth, which probably aided in grabbing and holding on to slippery seafood like squid and fish.

The skeleton of chilensis will remain in Chile for study and display, while a
replica is currently being prepared for display in Frankfurt, Germany. A full copy of the P. chilensis report is in the September issue of the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.


  1. I swear I saw one in my back garden about two years ago.

    Gemma Bryant, South Queensferry


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