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.
In this image taken on Nov. 7, 2012, NASA astronaut Reid Wiseman and European Space Agency astronaut Alexander Gerst (partially obscured), both Expedition 40/41 flight engineers, attired in training versions of their Extravehicular Mobility Unit (EMU) spacesuits, are submerged in the waters of the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory (NBL) near NASA's Johnson Space Center. Divers (out of frame) are in the water to assist Wiseman and Gerst in their rehearsal, which is intended to help prepare them for work on the exterior of the International Space Station.