by Laura Geggel, Staff Writer | June 02, 2015 11:00am ET
About 115 million years ago, a teenage bird with spotted, ribbonlike tail feathers flew around the trees of the supercontinent Gondwana, until it perished and fossilized in what is now northeastern Brazil, a new study finds.
At 5.5 inches (14 centimeters) from head to tail, the hummingbird-size fossil is the first of its kind to be uncovered in South America, and one of the oldest known bird fossils from Gondwana, a supercontinent that once encompassed Africa, Antarctica, Australia, India and South America, the researchers said.
What's more, it's one of the most complete and well-preserved fossils of a bird with ribbonlike tail feathers from the Early Cretaceous period, and gives researchers an unprecedented view of the intriguing plume that adorned its derriere. [See images of the remarkable bird with ribbonlike tail feathers]