In its modern incarnation, South Carolina's picturesque Charleston Harbor hosts a wide variety of marine birds—from the pelicans and cormorants that forage in its estuaries to the gulls and herons that breed and nest on its offshore islands and the songbirds that pass through en route to warmer climes for the winter months. Around 25 million years ago, however, dragons ruled the Carolina skies. These beasts were not the monsters of medieval folklore, of course, but rather evolution's closest facsimiles, fearsome in their own right: giant flying birds with wings longer than those of some light aircraft and beaks equipped with deadly, spearlike choppers.