Researchers have discovered the remains of an absolutely enormous bird that lived over three million years ago. With a wingspan of 20 to 24 feet — well over the length of a car — the researchers believe that it likely had the largest wingspan of any bird to have ever lived. The current wingspan record is held by the wandering albatross, at about 12 feet, and this fossil nearly doubles that. For the researchers, it's a surprising discovery because this new bird's wingspan exceeds what they believed to be a theoretical maximum for length.
The fossil was discovered back in 1983, but it's now being described by a researcher from the Bruce Museum in a paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The bird has been named Pelagornis sandersi, and it's said to be one of a number of giant birds that lived across the globe for around 10 million years before vanishing. “Pelagornithids were like creatures out of a fantasy novel," Daniel Ksepka, the paper's author, says in a statement, "there is simply nothing like them around today."