Prehistoric BirdsThe prehistoric birds
Images and proifles of prehistoric birds
These first real birds developed in the later Jura and developed into one of the most succesful and varied twigs of the vertebrates' world. This slide show features images and in-depth portraits of over 50 prehistoric and recently extirpated birds, from Archaeopteryx to passenger pigeons.
If it is about the endangered birds of New Zealand, many humans know the Giant Moas and the East Moas, but not many can call the Adzebill (type Aptornis), a moa-like birds, which was actually rather related to the crane and blades of grass. The Adzebill's far-away progenitors have adjusted to their environment on the islands in a classical case of converging evolutions by becoming tall and unable to fly, with sturdy feet and keen beaks to better chase the small creatures (lizards, bugs and birds) of New Zealand.
Unfortunately, like its better-known cousins, the Adzebill was no enemy to humans who quickly chased this 40-pound pound birds to the brink of extinction because of its flesh. Historic epoch: Height and weight: Distinctive features: As" terrorism-birds " - the over-dimensional, air-unable top-robbers of the Miocene and the Pliocene South America - Andalgalornis are not quite so well-known as Phorusrhacos or calnies.
But you can count on learning more about this once arcane robber, as a recent survey of the hunt practices of terrorist birds has used Andalgalornis as a sign. Andalgalornis ( and other terrorist birds) specifically did not do was grab booty in his pines and rock it back and forth, which would have overburdened his crib.
Historic epoch: Tightness and weight: Distinctive features: Although the only prehistoric birds ever mentioned in a novel by H.P. Lovecraft - albeit implicitly, as a six-foot-high, blinding, killer Albinosanthropornis was the greatest Eocene female ever to reach a level of almost 6 ft and weighing around 200lbs.
In this regard, this "human bird" was even larger than the supposed giant Icadyptes, Icadyptes and other oversized prehistoric penguins like Inkayacu. Historic epoch: Height and weight: Distinctive features: Sometimes it only takes a memorable name to drive a prehistoric birds from the stuffy interior of palaeontological magazines onto the front pages of newpapers.
" Like another huge, endangered Abyssinian Dromornis, the Miocene Bullockornis seems to have been more related to birds and gooses than to contemporary flowers, and its large, distinctive bill indicates that it had a flesh-eating food. Historic period: Height and weight: Distinctive features: Historic epoch:
Height and weight: Distinctive features: Kopepteryx is the most renowned member of the arcane prehistoric bird species known as Plotopterides, large, airless animals that looked like a penguin (to the degree that they are often referred to as a classic example of converging evolution). Copepteryx seems to have died out at about the same age ('23 million years ago') as the real gigantic Penguin of the South, possibly because of the predators of the old forefathers of the world' seal and dolphin.
Historic epoch: Height and weight: Distinctive features: Out of all the huge prehistoric birds that lived in New Zealand during the Pleiistocene, Emeus was the least able to resist the attacks of migrants. From his squatting torso and huge legs, this must have been an exceptionally slower, unattractive animal that was chased to death by people.
Historic period: Height and weight: Distinctive features: Like many prehistoric birds of the end of the Cretaceous is not much known about Enantiornis, whose name ("opposite bird") relates to an arcane anatomic characteristic, not to some kind of crazy, unbird-like behaviour. Historic epoch: Height and weight: Distinctive features:
Several of the birds of the early Eocene period, 50 million years ago, were weighing as much as medium-sized domestic animals - but this was not the case with Eocypselus, a minute bunch of tufts of an Oz that seems to originate from both contemporary common swifts and hawkfish. As common swifts have rather long leaves in comparison to their height and have relatively small leaves, it makes perfect sense that Eocypselus' leaves were somewhere in between - which means that this prehistoric birds could not float like a colibri or flash like a common swift, but had to make do with unpleasant flapping from leaf to leaf.
Historic epoch: Height and weight: Distinctive features: Historic period: Height and weight: Distinctive features: When you stumbled across a sample of Iberomesornis while walking through an early chalk wood, you might be mistaken for a prehistoric fledgling or peach that looks like it. The old, minute Iberomesornis, however, retain some distinct reptile features of their small theropods ancestors, among them individual nails on each of their wing and serrated toes.
While most palaeontologists consider Iberomesornis to be a real species, it does not appear to have produced any live offspring (modern birds probably come from a completely different species of Mesocoic ancestors). Historic period: Height and weight: Distinctive features: This is a real prehistoric Latè Cretacean avocet - not a terosaurian or feathery duck - - Iith thyornis was remarkable as a contemporary gull, with a long bill and a pointed snout.
There were, however, some great differences: this prehistoric avian had a full pair of incisive, reptilelike dentures implanted in a very reptile pine (which is one of the reasons why the first remnants of ichthyornis were mixed up with those of a sea reflex, the mosaurus). lchthyornis is another prehistoric creature found before its day, before palaeontologists fully grasped the evolving relation between birds and dinosaurs: the first example was found in 1870 and described a decade later by the renowned palaeontologist Othniel C. Marsh, who described this avian as" Odontornithes".
Historic period: Height and weight: Distinctive features: Incayacu is not the first oversized prehistoric female to have been found in present-day Peru; this honour goes to Icadyptes, also known as the Giant Pinguin, who has to give up his name because of his somewhat bigger comrade. Five-foot high and just over 100 lbs. inkyacu was about twice the height of the advanced emperor and had a long, slender, dangerous-looking bill with which it could impale sharks from exotic water (the fact that both icadyptes and incayacu flourished in the luxuriant Eocene Peru tropic climates could lead to a rewrite of the evolutionary penguins' books).
Historic period: Height and weight: Distinctive features: Judging by the fossilized proofs, Jeholornis was almost certainly the largest prehistoric Eurasian prehistoric birds and reached a chicken-like size when most of his Mesozoan relations (such as Liaoningornis) were relatively small. In fact, the line that separates real birds like Jeholornis from the small, feathery nesting birds from which it originated was very delicate, as evidenced by the fact that this birds is sometimes known as the Shenzhouraptor.
Jeholornis ("Jehol bird") was a completely different being from the former Jeholopterus ("Jehol wing"), who was not a real birds or even a feathery dye, but aterosaur. And Jeholopterus has also caused his part of the dissension, as a palaeontologist has insisted that he sits on the back of the great sowropods of the latter part of the Jura and sucks theirs!
Historic period: Height and weight: Distinctive features: Normally New Zealand is not cited as one of the world's major fossilized production nations - unless one speaks of prehistoric pinguins. While the Oligocean era lived about 27 million years ago, Kairuku had the rough proportions of a short man (about five foot long and weighing 130 pounds) and roamed the coastlines for delicious fishing, small cetaceans and other sealife.
Historic epoch: Height and weight: Distinctive features: Phorusrhacos - the species of posters for the endangered pinnate carnivorous species known as "birds of terror" - is only known from the remnants of a large, giant cranium and a footsteps described in 2007. This is enough for the paleontologist to reconstruct this prehistoric birds as a medium-sized, non-airworthy predator of the Middle Miocene forest of Patagonia, although it is not yet known why calyxes had such a giant forehead and bill (it was probably another means to frighten the mammal mega fauna of prehistoric South America).
Historic period: Height and weight: Distinctive features: Liaoning fossils in China have produced a large number of dinosaur birds, small feathery Theropoda, which appear to be intermediates in the gradual development of the dinosaur into avian. Amazingly, this place has produced the only known example of Liaoningornis, a small prehistoric early Cretaceous birds that was more like a contemporary Sparrow or Dove than any of its more celebrated feathery Cousin.
Liaoningornis' legs show that the "locking mechanism" (or at least the long claws) that help today's birds to settle safely in the high twigs of the saplings. Historic period: Height and weight: Distinctive features: There is nothing that gives palaeontologists a better overview of the prehistoric birds' prehistoric relations.
Longipteryx is a good example, a surprising birdlike one ( "long, feathery wing, long beak, striking sternum"), which does not quite match the other birds of the early Cretaceous age. Historic epoch: Height and weight: Distinctive features: The ensuing examination of the human population of this species by another paleontological research group concluded that this supposedly new species of parrots did indeed belong to an established species of prehistoric birds, the Rhynchaites.
Rhynchaeites was not a psittacine macaw, but an arcane variety remotely related to contemporary ibissi. Historic epoch: Height and weight: Distinctive features: It was the second largest prehistoric seabird that ever inhabited, with some 15-foot wingspan specimens, after the close relative Pelagornis, who was in second place even only after the truly giant Argentavis from South America (the only flyers taller than these three birds were the giant Pterosaurus of the end Cretaceous).
Historic epoch: Height and weight: Distinctive features: We know that this prehistoric migrating birds seems to be in an anatomical and life-style setting between a Great Crested Grebe versus a Floringo, and that it may have been able to float under water. Historic period: Height and weight: Distinctive features: It is not only that prehistoric birds coexisted with a dinosaur during the Mesozoic era, some of these birds had been around long enough to lose the capacity to flight - a good example is the "secondary flightless" Patagopteryx, which originated from smaller, floating birds of the early Cretaceous time.
Judging by its atrophied wing and the absence of a transverse handlebar, the South American Patagopteryx was clearly a landbound animal, similar to contemporary hens - and, like hens, it seems to have followed an omivorous aliment. Historic epoch: Height and weight: Distinctive features: Psilopterus was the dwarf of the throw - this prehistoric pound weigh only about 10 to 15 and was a plus prawn in comparison to bigger, more hazardous members of the race such as Titanis, Kelenken and Phorusrhacos.
Psilopterus, a strongly beaky, sturdily constructed, short-winged psilopterus, could do considerable harm to the smaller creatures in its Latin America environment; it was once thought that this delicate terrestrial scarecrow could grow and grow up, but it was probably as awkward and land-based as its people.
Historic period: Height and weight: Distinctive features: Palaeontologists are still confused by the abundance of early chalk birds, which possess astonishingly progressive properties. Sapeornis is one of the best known of these birds puzzles, a seagull-sized prehistoric birds, apparently adjusted for long flights and almost certainly one of the largest birds of its day and place.
Sapeornis, like many other Mesocoic birds, had its part to play in reptile traits - like the small number of fangs at the end of its bill - but otherwise it seems to have accommodated the birds rather than the feathery dinosaurs, the end of the evolutional range. Enantiornithins " were a group of birds containing chalk, which kept some clearly reptile features - especially their teeths - and which died out at the end of the mesocoic era and lived the open fields for the parallels of the birds we see today.
Shanweiniao's importance is that it was one of the few enantiornithin birds that had a fan-shaped cock that would have assisted it to start quickly (and use less power when flying) by producing the necessary buoyancy. Longipteryx, one of Shanweiniao's close relations, was an early Cretaceous proto-bird.
Historic epoch: Height and weight: Distinctive features: Maybe for tourist purposes, Australia has done its best to benefit the thunderbird as the greatest prehistoric bird that ever lived, and suggests an upper-linked adult weigth of a full half-tonne ( "which would arch Dromornis over Aepyornis in energy ratings"), and suggests that it was even higher than the giant Moa of New Zealand.
These may be exaggerations, but the fact is that Dromornis was a gigantic animal, not as much related to contemporary Australia's bouquets as to smaller birds and gooses. In contrast to these other prehistoric giants, who (because of their missing defences ) were killed by early humans, the thunderbird seems to have died out by itself - perhaps because of the climate changes during the Pliocene era, which affected its supposed plant-eating food.
Historic period: Height and weight: Distinctive features: One might think it was an open case that the immediate forebears of contemporary birds were living next to the Mesozoic era but things are not that simple: it is still possible that most chalky birds were occupying a similar but related avifauna.
Vegavis, a full specimens recently found on the Vega Island of Antarctica, is important because this prehistoric birds was undeniably related to contemporary birds and gooses, but 65 million years ago co-existed with K/T extinction cows. Historic epoch: Height and weight: Distinctive features:
Giant penguins (also known as Icadyptes) get all the media, but the fact is that this 40 million year old wader was far from the first geological records of the penguin: this honour goes to Waimanu, whose females date to Paleocene New Zealand only a few million years after the extinction of the fossil family.
Like such an old female bird, the inoperative Waimanu had a rather unpenguin-like shape (his corpse was more like that of a contemporary sea-diver), and his fins were much longer than those of the following members of his race.