The aerodynamics of Argentavis, the world's largest flying bird from the Miocene of Argentina
We calculate the flight performance of the gigantic volant bird Argentavis magnificens from the upper Miocene (≈6 million years ago) of Argentina using a computer simulation model. Argentavis was probably too large (mass ≈70 kg) to be capable of continuous flapping flight or standing takeoff under its own muscle power. Like extant condors and vultures, Argentavis would have extracted energy from the atmosphere for flight, relying on thermals present on the Argentinean pampas to provide power for soaring, and it probably used slope soaring over the windward slopes of the Andes. It was an excellent glider, with a gliding angle close to 3° and a cruising speed of 67 kph. Argentavis could take off by running downhill, or by launching from a perch to pick up flight speed. Other means of takeoff remain problematic. © 2007 by The National Academy of Sciences of the USA.