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.

Wednesday 27 March 2019

In a first, fossil bird found with unlaid egg – via Mark Raines

“I couldn’t even sleep at night,” the lead paleontologist says of her reaction to the discovery.
ABOUT 115 MILLION years ago in what's now northwest China, a female bird was on the verge of motherhood. But somehow, her life on an ancient lakeshore took a traumatic turn, triggering a pregnancy complication that killed the egg forming inside her and may have even led to her death.
Entombed ever since, this mother bird is now a paleontology milestone: Named Avimaia schweitzerae, the newly described species is the first fossil bird known to science that contains an unlaid egg.
“We were not expecting anything interesting, but it turned out to be the first fossil bird ever found with an egg inside its body,” says lead study author Alida Bailleul, a postdoctoral researcher at China's Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology (IVPP). “To me, that’s the funniest thing.”
Described this week in Nature Communications, the egg could shed light on reproductive disorders in ancient birds. And if its pigments are preserved, the fossil could reveal more about how ancient birds nested. Previous research has shown that the colors and speckles on dinosaur eggshells may vary depending on the dinosaur's nesting behavior, such as whether the species buries its eggs or broods them. This pattern holds true in the only dinosaurs alive today: birds.

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