July 30th, 2021

In preparation for this weekend’s High-in-the-Sky Palaeo-Palooza, this week’s #fossilfriday will spotlight an early bird! Mesozoic birds had developed rudimentary flight by the late Jurassic, and in the Cretaceous period, the ornithuromorphs, the group that would give rise to modern bird diversity, appeared.

 

Archaeornithura meemannae is an Early Cretaceous ornithuromorph from Northeast China. Discovered in 130.7-million-year-old deposits, Archaeornithura is the oldest known. This specimen displays full plumage, preserved as black imprints in the rock. The long feathers, or remiges, on its wings are asymmetrical, an adaptation in flight feathers of modern birds. They also possessed an alula, a small cluster of feathers along the crest of the wing that helps increase maneuverability during flight.

 

Come to the Palaeo-Palooza and check out Dr. Corwin Sullivan’s talk on the evolution of birds and bird flight!

Image Credit: Wang et al., Nature
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