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.
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.