As regular CFZ-watchers will know, for some time Corinna has been doing a column for Animals & Men and a regular segment on On The Track... particularly about out-of-place birds and rare vagrants. There seem to be more and more bird stories from all over the world hitting the news these days so, to make room for them all - and to give them all equal and worthy coverage - she has set up this new blog to cover all things feathery and Fortean.

Friday, 22 April 2016

Seed clue to how birds survived mass extinction

By Helen BriggsBBC News

22 April 2016 

Modern birds owe their survival to ancestors who were able to peck on seeds after the meteor that wiped out most dinosaurs, say scientists.

Bird-like dinosaurs with toothless beaks survived the "nuclear winter" that followed the meteor strike, because of their diet, a study says.

The impact altered the climate of the Earth and blotted out sunlight.

The loss of vegetation would have deprived plant-eating dinosaurs of food. In turn, meat-eaters suffered.

But seeds still in the ground may have sustained small toothless bird ancestors until the planet began to recover.

The theory, outlined in the journal Current Biology, could explain why no modern bird has a beak lined with teeth.

"After this meteor, you're left with essentially a nuclear winter where really not much is growing, the plants aren't able to grow to provide nourishment for plant-eaters and then meat-eaters aren't able to access plant-eaters if they've all perished," said lead researcher Derek Larson, from the University of Toronto.

"We think that the survival of birds had something to do with the presence of their beak."

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