Friday, 10 January 2014

The new sensational Cretaceous bird

Although, I know that many birds and dinosaur-birds lived alongside dinosaurs some 125 million years ago, during the Early Cretaceous, I always get surprised by the new discoveries. How come the ancient birds looked so advanced and modern as early as  that?
The newly described Chinese fossil bird Hongshanornis longicresta wouldn't make you turn your head if it flew by you. It seemed so common. Only a closer look, a very close look, would reveal that it had tiny teeth in the front of its beak and claws on it's wings.
A couple of years ago I was engaged in a project of producing and mounting a theropod  sculpture on the famous and rich Barremian track site on the Main Brijun island in Croatia. The tracks are roughly of the same age as the Chinese Jehol bird fossil. There are theropod tracks of various sizes at the site. The largest footprints measure about 60-65 cm in length. I have also noticed a large crock footprint, iguanodontoid tracks and possibly a pterosaur footprint there.

The sculpture:
More photographs of the M. Brijun theropod sculpture 

A couple of theropod footprints at the V. Brijun Barremian site (125 mya):

Here is my restoration of the ancient bird Hongshanornis longicresta:

You can read more about the find here:
National Geographic
... or if you are interested more, here is the free scientific paper:
 A new specimen of the Early Cretaceous bird Hongshanornis longicresta: insights into the aerodynamics and diet of a basal ornithuromorph

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