The Duck of Death

Science • Views: 2,009

Well, the economy may be melting down, and Iran may be on the brink of nuclear weapons, but at least we don’t have gigantic geese the size of small airplanes with beaks full of razor sharp teeth.

Scientists have found a new huge and well-preserved fossil of a goose and duck relative that swam around what is now England 50 million years ago flashing sharp, toothy smiles.

The skull, discovered on the Isle of Sheppey off the southeast coast of England in the Thames Estuary, belonged to a huge ancient bird in the extinct genus Dasornis, which had a whopping 16-foot (5-meter) wingspan.

“Imagine a bird like an ocean-going goose almost the size of a small plane!” said Gerald Mayr of the Senckenberg Research Institute in Germany and a member of the team that studied the skull. “By today’s standards, these were pretty bizarre animals, but perhaps the strangest thing about them is that they had sharp, tooth-like projections along the cutting edges of the beak.”

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