Observations at many sites in South America, including the European Southern Observatory's (ESO) La Silla Observatory, have made the surprise discovery that two dense and narrow rings surround the remote asteroid Chariklo. This is the smallest object by far found to have rings and only the fifth body in the solar system — after the much larger planets Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune — to have this feature. The origin of these rings remains a mystery, but they may be the result of a collision that created a disk of debris.
The wingspan of Pelagornis sandersi dwarfs that of today's biggest flier, the royal albatross, whose span measures a "mere" 11.5 feet (3.5 meters). And it rivals that of the largest flying bird on record: Argentavis magnificens—a South American condor with a 23-foot (7-meter) wingspan that glided among the mountaintops of the Andes six million years ago.
"Pelagornis was certainly much lighter and a better 'flier'" than the vanished giant condor, says paleontologist Antoine Louchart of France's Institute of Functional Genomics in Lyon, who was not involved with the study.