Study: Fossil soaring bird had huge wingspan

NEW YORK — A fossil found in South Carolina has revealed a gigantic bird that apparently snatched fish while soaring over the ocean some 25 million to 28 million years ago.

Its estimated wingspan of around 21 feet is bigger than the height of a giraffe.

The skeleton was discovered in 1983 near the Charleston airport, but its first formal description was released Monday by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Daniel Ksepka (SEP’-kuh) of the Bruce Museum in Greenwich, Connecticut, who wrote the paper, said the creature probably did not land on water. And it was apparently clumsy on land.

The bird is named Pelagornis sandersi. The name honors a retired Charleston museum curator who recovered the fossil.

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