How the biggest bird flew described in an article in ABC (Australia) News in Science 3 July 2007.

Sankar Chatterjee, of Museum of Texas Tech University, and his colleagues, have used flight simulation software to analyse the aerodynamics of an enormous fossil bird named Argentavis magnificens which had a seven metre wingspan and may have weighed about 60kg.

The researchers concluded that it was very good at soaring on thermals (updrafts of air) but could not have sustained powered flight for very long and would have had a hard time taking off from the ground. They suggested that it took off like modern day hang gliders, running with a headwind behind it or on sloping ground. Once airborne it could have reached speeds of up to 100km per hour.

The extinct bird is believed to be the largest flying bird that ever lived and died out about six million years ago.


Editorial Comment: It is most unlikely that such a large flying bird could successfully fly in today’s atmosphere, but it could have thrived if the atmospheric pressure had been higher. This would have not only improved the aerodynamics for large flying creatures, but also made more oxygen available.

Other fossils such as giant flying reptiles, giant insects and giant plants are evidence that the atmosphere had been much better for flying creatures. The description of the very good world described in Genesis 1:1-16, where God placed “waters above” the atmosphere, would certainly have resulted in a higher atmospheric pressure where such a giant bird would have fitted well.

15th August 2007

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