what is the oldest species of bird

Birds first showed up on the paleontological scene around 150 million years ago, making their debut with toothsome terrors like Archaeopteryx that likely resembled their more reptilian-looking dinosaurian ancestors, reports George Dvorsky for Gizmodo. Sometime during the Cretaceous, though, our feathered friends began to shed their teeth, bony tails and clawed wings in favor of more docile traits. But evidence of these ancient avians has been scant, leaving a gaping hole in the origin story of modern birds.

However, the descendants of this diminutive being—a recently discovered fossil drolly named “Wonderchicken”—lived on, contributing to the genesis of the resilient, varied avian ancestry that continues to grace the skies of the contemporary world.

Roughly 66. A small, quail-sized bird met an unfortunate and untimely end 8 million years ago, not long before the end-Cretaceous extinction that wiped out all non-avian dinosaurs.

“This is an incredibly informative specimen,” Amy Balanoff, a paleontologist at Johns Hopkins University who wasn’t involved in the work, tells Gretchen Vogel at Science magazine. “It gives us some clues about what characteristics were key in surviving” that catastrophic event.

A bird known as Vegavis iaai, which lived in the Cretaceous and left a trail of bones in the rocks of what is now Antarctica, is known to have looked at least as modern as Wonderchicken. It lived some 200,000 or 300,000 years after Wonderchicken. According to the Guardian, Asteriornis, which was extracted from European sediments, broadens our understanding of the history of birds and raises the possibility that modern birds originated in the north rather than the south. The new research suggests that birds may have developed certain critical features just in time—that is, hundreds of thousands of years before that fateful space rock crashed into Earth—though more fossils may eventually change the picture.

The first birds had sharp teeth, long bony tails and claws on their hands. The clear distinction we see between living birds and other animals did not exist with early birds.

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In actuality, the earliest birds resembled tiny dinosaurs more than any modern bird.

Although birds had already evolved before the 150 million-year-old Archaeopteryx, it is the earliest known bird (based on fossils). Soon after Archaeopteryx, a variety of birds with more evolved features appeared. During the Late Cretaceous, one group gave rise to contemporary birds. Thus, prehistoric birds, early modern birds, and dinosaurs that resembled birds coexisted for a while.

Two examples of early birds are:

what is the oldest species of bird

Archaeopteryx drawing by Dr Anne Musser

Several characteristics of Archaeopteryx are absent from contemporary birds, such as:

  • jaws with teeth
  • claws on hands
  • long, bony tail

what is the oldest species of bird

An early bird called Confuciusornis lived in China 125 million years ago. It had many primitive features including claws on the wings. It was one of the first known birds to have a shortened bony tail and a toothless beak, giving it more advanced features than Archaeopteryx. It also had feathers suited for flight. Confuciusornis fossils were the subject of a melanosome study that revealed the species had dark feathers on its body and dark and white feathers on its wings.

what is the oldest species of bird


What is the oldest existing bird species?

Ratites (emu, ostrich, kiwi, etc) are believed to be the oldest living birds. The emu is said to be 80 M years old.

What is the oldest bird on earth?

With the world’s oldest known bird, a 73-year-old albatross, also back on her breeding grounds, we take a look at these legendary birds, their fascinating behaviours, and how the Albatross Task Force is working to protect albatrosses across the world.

What is the oldest modern bird?

‘Wonderchicken’ is the earliest known modern bird at nearly 67 million years old.

What was the first species of bird?

The earliest known (from fossils) bird is the 150-million-year-old Archaeopteryx, but birds had evolved before then. A range of birds with more advanced features appeared soon after Archaeopteryx.