Happy Fossil Friday!
Friday November 13, 2020
Instructor: Arthur Reed, P.G.
THE Largest Bird
The Pelagornithidae, commonly called pelagornithids, pseudodontorns, bony-toothed birds, false-toothed birds or pseudotooth birds, are a prehistoric family of large seabirds. Their fossil remains have been found all over the world.
Fossils recovered from Antarctica in the 1980s represent the oldest giant members of the extinct group of birds that patrolled the southern oceans with wingspans of up to 21 feet that would dwarf the 11˝-foot wingspan of today’s largest bird, the wandering albatross. Although its toothed beak looks frightening, it was likely used for holding prey that it would then swallow whole.
These birds filled a niche much like that of today’s albatross and traveled widely over Earth’s oceans for at least 60 million years. Though a much smaller pelagornithid fossil dates from 62 million years ago, one of the newly described fossils — a 50 million-year-old portion of a bird’s foot — shows that the larger pelagornithids arose just after life rebounded from the mass extinction 65 million years ago, when the relatives of birds, the large dinosaurs, went extinct. Pelagornithids went extinct around 3 million years ago.
PS, Mary Anning’s story just opened in theaters as the movie ‘Ammonite’. She was featured in my September 11 Fossil Friday.
NOTE: Corrections are always appreciated!