Pelagornis sandersi is a 25-million-year-old bird with a 24-foot-long wingspan. Scientists now think it could have flown.
For reference, we're talking about a bird that's the size of a 1950s sedan. There are sailboats this length that can sleep four people. Let's just say, that's a big-ass bird.
The trick, the researchers think, was in the bird's environment. It lived near the water.
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Pelagornis sandersi relied on the ocean to keep it aloft. Similar in many ways to a modern-day albatross — although with at least twice the wingspan and very different in appearance, Ksepka said — the bird probably needed a lot of help to fly. It had to run downhill into a head wind, catching the air like a hang glider. Once airborne, it relied on air currents rising from the ocean to keep it gliding.