Giant bird relied on updrafts to fly

From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Weighing in at 150 pounds or more and with a wingspan of 23 feet, the all-time biggest bird couldn’t just hop into the air and fly away, researchers say.

Researchers at Texas Tech University used computer programs originally designed for aircraft to analyze the probable flight characteristics of Argentavis magnificens, a giant bird that lived in South America 6 million years ago. Like today’s condors and other large birds, Argentavis would have had to rely on updrafts to remain in the air, they reported Tuesday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The birds would have been forced to seek an elevated area for liftoff.