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.

Thursday 11 October 2018

New Species of Prehistoric Short-Tailed Bird Found in China

Sep 26, 2018 by News Staff / Source

Paleontologists have found the remains — the well-preserved complete skeleton and feathers — of a short-tailed bird that lived 127 million years ago (Early Cretaceous epoch) in northeastern China.

The ancient bird, dubbed Jinguofortis perplexus, had a body mass of 250 g, a wing span of 27.5 inches (70 cm), and a unique combination of traits.

“This fossil bird had a jaw with small teeth like their theropod dinosaur relatives,” explained Dr. Zhonghe Zhou, a researcher in the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology, the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

“It also had a short bony tail ending in a compound bone called a pygostyle (that evolved after the earliest known bird, Archaeopteryx); gizzard stones showing that it mostly ate plants; and a third finger with only two bones in it (unlike other early birds).”

Based on its skeleton and feathers, Jinguofortis perplexus probably flew a bit differently than birds do today.

“In flying birds, the shoulder, which experiences high stress during flight, is a tight joint between unfused bones,” the paleontologists said.

“In contrast, Jinguofortis perplexus preserves a shoulder girdle where the major bones of the shoulder, the shoulder blade (scapula) and the coracoid, are fused to one another, forming a scapulocoracoid.”

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