Pelagornis chilensis

Paleontologists have found the remains of a huge bird in the Atacama region of Chile. The fossils that were recovered belonged to a toothy bird with an impressive 17 foot wingspan called Pelagoris chilensis. Pelagoris chilensis can be loosely translated to “huge pseudo teeth” and is part of a group known as the Pelagornithids.The fossil found in northern Chile was extremely well preserved and was roughly 70% complete. Pelagornithid fossil wings were previously only dug up in pieces.

The Pelagornithids had bony tooth-like projections on their long beaks. These large birds likely used their beaks to skim along the top of the surface looking for a tasty meal to clamp on. The jagged beaks made slippery meals like fish and squid easier to grasp.

This ancient sea bird is one of the largest birds ever discovered. The large wingspan also tells us that these birds were likely able to travel long distances.Paleontologist believe that P. chilensis wingspan might be the maximum length possible for a flying bird. Scientists also believe that our early hominid ancestors might have seen some of these huge birds flying in the skies above.

The illustrations are courtesy of Carlos Anzures

2 comments for “Pelagornis chilensis

  1. Don V. Cook
    March 17, 2013 at 10:25 am

    Hello-
    Interesting !
    What is your estimate of the Pelagoris chilensis’s weight?
    Thanks.
    -Don

    • tapia
      August 9, 2013 at 12:24 pm

      According to NBC New – 64 pounds!

      “The measurement is based on well preserved wing bones from the newly named bird species, Pelagornis chilensis, a.k.a. “huge pseudoteeth” from Chile. The animal weighed about 64 pounds and belonged to a group known as pelagornithids — birds characterized by long, slender beaks bearing many spiny, tooth-like projections.”

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