A 127-million-year-old fossil of a baby bird has been discovered and is paving the way towards understanding the evolution of birds in the age of dinosaurs
The research shows that the bird was part of the enantiornithine family, which contains many specimens that had both teeth and clawed fingers on each wing.
Luis Chiappe from the LA Museum of Natural History mentioned that this new discovery will allow researchers to take a look into a past in which they had very little access to until this very moment.
“This new discovery, together with others from around the world, allows us to peek into the world of ancient birds that lived during the age of dinosaurs,” he said.
“It is amazing to realize how many of the features we see among living birds had already been developed more than 100 million years ago,” Chiappe added.
According to the research, the fossil record of birds is not extensive. So far, the oldest bird fossil on record is the Archaeopteryx, having lived 150 million years ago.
Even so, the university notes that by 35 million years ago, “most of the bird orders that we recognize today had appeared.”
The unearthed fossil indicated that the bird weighed less than 3 ounces and was not bigger than a man’s smallest finger. Moreover, it seems that the bird also died shortly after being born, allowing researchers to look into “a critical stage in a bird’s skeletal formation.”
By analysing the bone development, researchers may be able to understand whether the bird could fly.