Suddenly the Sky Darkened
from the book, "Our Fascinating Earth"

Book: 
Our Fascinating Earth

Suddenly the Sky Darkened

In 1980 the fossil remains of an eight—million—year—old bird were unearthed in Argentina. Its most unique feature was its wingspan of at least twenty feet, making it the largest known bird to fly. The great teratorn, a vulturelike predator, has been named Argentavis magnificens. Measurements taken of its wing bones clearly show they are the right size for its body proportions to have achieved true flight. The bird was incredibly large; standing on the ground, it could have looked a six—foot man straight in the eye!

Prior to the discovery of this new species, the largest known bird capable of flight was the vulture Teratornis. Several skeletons have been found in the La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles. It had a wingspan of twelve feet and stood thirty inches high. Next to the new Argentina specimen, however, it would appear to be a diminutive juvenile!