May 22, 2019 | Updated: 08:18 AM EDT

Bird Fossil Discovery: Scientists Found Second Specimen Of Eoconfuciusornis

Mar 28, 2017 02:13 AM EDT

Scientists make new discovery about bird evolution.
(Photo : VCG/Getty Images)

A recently published article showed that a team of scientists from the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology, the Shandong Tianyu Museum of Nature and the Nanjing Institute of Geology and Paleontology in China, described the most exceptionally preserved bird fossil discovered till now. This is a new discovery regarding the bird evolution which can provide some unknown information till date.

According to Science Daily, this new bird fossil specimen is from the rich early Cretaceous Jehol Biota, which is approximately 131 to 120 million years old. It is cited as Eoconfuciusornis that are the oldest and the most primitive member of Confuciusornithiformes. This is the second specimen of Eoconfuciusornis which has been found till now.

Confuciusornis is a group of early birds known by their occurrence of an avian beak. It is known from thousands of specimens from early years, but this is only the second specimen of Eoconfuciusornis found. These species originate from the 130.7 Ma Huajiying Formation deposits in Hubei that preserved the second oldest birds fossil. Birds coming out from this layer are categorized as very rare.

According to AKTK, the specimen for Confuciusornis preserved in Shandong Tianyu Museum of Nature in Eastern China is a female. This bird fossil gender revelation was done by the ovary as the developing yolks vary in size as similar to living birds. The Eoconfuciusornis and its kin, similar as living birds were able to cope with extremely high metabolic demands during reproduction and early growth.

Traces of skin in the bird fossil indicate that the wings were supplemented by flaps of skin called patagia. Living birds have various wing patagia that help a bird to fly. Thus this fossil helps to show how bird's wings evolved.

Propatagium and postpatagium are clearly seen in the bird fossil. The propatagium is the skin part of the flap that connects the shoulder and wrist and postpatagium is the skin part of the flap that extends off the back of the hand and ulna evolved before. The alular patagium is the flap of skin connecting the first digit to the rest of the hand and is seen absent in Eoconfuciusornis.

One unique thing is the preservation of the internal structure of the propatagium which revealed a collagenous network identical to that of living birds. This internal network gives the skin of the flap its shape, allowing it to generate aerodynamic lift and aid the bird to flight or take off. Thus this discovery of bird fossil can prove to be a very important revelation of bird's ancestors.

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