Dear Visitor,

Our system has found that you are using an ad-blocking browser add-on.

We just wanted to let you know that our site content is, of course, available to you absolutely free of charge.

Our ads are the only way we have to be able to bring you the latest high-quality content, which is written by professional journalists, with the help of editors, graphic designers, and our site production and I.T. staff, as well as many other talented people who work around the clock for this site.

So, we ask you to add this site to your Ad Blocker’s "white list" or to simply disable your Ad Blocker while visiting this site.

Continue on this site freely
You are here: Home / Science & Discovery / Bird Fossil Offers Evolution Clues
Ancient Baby Bird Fossil Offers Avian Evolution Clues
Ancient Baby Bird Fossil Offers Avian Evolution Clues
By Brooks Hays Like this on Facebook Tweet this Link thison Linkedin Link this on Google Plus
A newly discovered fossil has offered paleontologists new insights into the development of prehistoric birds. The fossil is one of the smallest avian fossils ever discovered, offering a snapshot of the bird's skeletal development. The 127-million-year-old baby bird belonged to a group of prehistoric birds known as Enantiornithes.

Like their dinosaur relatives, Enantiornithes disappeared at the end of the Mesozoic Era, some 65 million years ago. Though they have no modern relatives, the group includes the first birds to evolve during the Age of the Dinosaurs.

An improved understanding of Enantiornithes development and evolution can offer insights into the emergence and evolution of modern avian species.

The tiny bird specimen -- no bigger than a human pinky finger and weighing just three ounces -- likely died only days after being born, its bones still ossifying. As a result, scientists were able to glean new insights into the nature of bone development among Enantiornithes birds.

Scientists detailed those insights in a new paper published this week in the journal Nature.

"The evolutionary diversification of birds has resulted in a wide range of hatchling developmental strategies and important differences in their growth rates," Fabien Knoll, researcher at the University of Manchester, said in a news release. "By analyzing bone development we can look at a whole host of evolutionary traits."

Imaging technology called synchrotron radiation allowed scientists to observe the bones' microstructures.

"New technologies are offering palaeontologists unprecedented capacities to investigate provocative fossils," Knoll said. "Here we made the most of state-of-the-art facilities worldwide including three different synchrotrons in France, the U.K. and the United States."

The images showed the bird's breastbone, or sternum, had yet to transform from cartilage into solid bone by the time of its death. The pattern of ossification observed using synchrotron radiation suggests Enantiornithes birds deployed a wide array of development patterns.

"This new discovery, together with others from around the world, allows us to peek into the world of ancient birds that lived during the age of dinosaurs," said Luis Chiappe, researcher at the Los Angeles Museum of Natural History. "It is amazing to realize how many of the features we see among living birds had already been developed more than 100 million years ago."

© 2018 UPI Science News under contract with NewsEdge/Acquire Media. All rights reserved.

Image credit: University of Manchester; Photo by Raul Martin.

Tell Us What You Think


Like Us on FacebookFollow Us on Twitter
© Copyright 2018 NewsFactor Network. All rights reserved. Member of Accuserve Ad Network.