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"What Birds Looked Like 125 Million Years Ago" Topic

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723 hits since 9 Apr 2012
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Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP09 Apr 2012 1:09 p.m. PST

"Looking at ancient bird fossils is an opportunity to see what birding might have been like millions of years ago. Back then, many birds had enormous teeth, long snouts and long, bony tails.

"The birds that lived during the age of the dinosaurs were very different from the birds that live today," said Los Angeles County Natural History Museum curator and dino-bird expert Luis Chiappe. "And it would have been a completely different experience to go out birding in the Mesozoic Era."

During the Mesozoic, from 250 to 65 million years ago, the planet also looked and felt very different. Earth was much warmer, and the ice caps didn't exist. The continents were only beginning to split into their modern configurations. Sea levels were higher, and large dinosaurs ruled the land. Primitive birds emerged at this time and became prey for non-avian dinosaurs, which were usually much bigger.

We've compiled a quick guide to birding in China's primitive forest-filled aviary, which thrived about 125 to 120 million years ago. We've tried to give a sense of how big these ancient birds were by comparing them to modern birds. The comparisons are based on the size of the femur, or thigh muscle.

Jeholornis is the most primitive bird in this guide. It had very tiny teeth, short clawed wings and a very long, bony tail. "In that sense, it still retains the long, bony tails of the dinosaurs," Chiappe said.

It had feet capable of clasping branches, which suggests it might have lived or have spent a good amount of time perching in trees, Chiappe says. It didn't have a hard, ossified breast bone, which suggests it probably wasn't very good at flying. "They could have fluttered from one tree to another," Chiappe said. But these turkey-vulture-sized birds probably weren't long-range flyers."


Hope you enjoy!.


Personal logo Dr Mathias Supporting Member of TMP Fezian09 Apr 2012 1:56 p.m. PST

Definitely an interesting subject. If I could start a career all over again, I would go with avian paleontology.

cfielitz09 Apr 2012 4:35 p.m. PST

Dr. Mathias: I've had some experience with avian paleontology, and more specifically, avian paleontologists. It can be pretty ugly out there.

Personal logo Silurian Supporting Member of TMP10 Apr 2012 2:55 p.m. PST

No Kidding. They get all in a flap over the slightest thing.

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