A new species of condor has been discovered in Argentina that lived 30,000 years ago. The remains of the extinct bird were discovered in Marcos Paz, 34 kilometers from Buenos Aires.
The announcement was made by researchers from the Argentine Museum of Natural Sciences and the National Council of Scientific and Technical Research.
The condor had a wing span that rivaled the very widest seen in birds today, reaching up to three meters in length. The wandering albatross has the longest wingspan of any living bird, typically ranging from 2.51 to 3.5 m (8 ft 3 in to 11 ft 6 in)
Scientists say this finding is unique not only to the province of Buenos Aires but to all of Argentina, because it is the first time that a well preserved specimen of an extinct condor has been found.
The new type of condor was named Pampagyps imperator. Federico Agnolin, a researcher at the Argentine Museum of Natural Sciences, described the name as meaning something like ’emperor vulture of the Pampas’. Analysis of the remains reveals it had stronger talons compared to condor species today (pictured above), which only feed on carrion, so this ancient relative would be more physically able to hunt and consume small prey.
The paleontologist also noted that at the time this animal lived there were mastodons, giant sloths, glyptodontes and saber-toothed tiger.
The area this discovery was made is part of the quarry was declared as a paleontological reserve that can only be used for scientific purposes. In addition to finding fossils of large animals, the quarry is also special because the remains of small animals – including microvertebrate, birds, lizards, fish – typically more difficult to find, have also been found there.
UPDATE: Learn more in this Agencia CTyS agency video