Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New Fossil Found In Mongolia Provides Insight Into The Origin Of Living Birds And The Evolution Of Flight

Date:
January 11, 2001
Source:
Yale University
Summary:
The discovery in Mongolia of the fossil of a new bird, Apsaravis ukhaana, that lived about 80 million years ago, sheds new light on the evolution of birds. The nearly complete specimen of the small pigeon-sized bird was found at the locality Ukhaa Tolgod in the Gobi Desert of Southern Mongolia as part of the ongoing joint expeditions of the American Museum of Natural History in New York and the Mongolian Academy of Sciences.

New Haven, Conn. – The discovery in Mongolia of the fossil of a new bird, Apsaravis ukhaana, that lived about 80 million years ago, sheds new light on the evolution of birds.

Related Articles


The nearly complete specimen of the small pigeon-sized bird was found at the locality Ukhaa Tolgod in the Gobi Desert of Southern Mongolia as part of the ongoing joint expeditions of the American Museum of Natural History in New York and the Mongolian Academy of Sciences.

The find, announced this week in the journal Nature, was analyzed by Julia Clarke, a doctoral candidate in vertebrate paleontology atYale University, and Mark Norell, chair and curator of the Division of Paleontology at the American Museum of Natural History. The discovery is particularly important because the new bird comes from a part of the evolutionary tree close to the origin of all living birds and that is not well represented in the fossil record.

"All of the birds living today have a most recent common ancestor that they share," said Clarke, who is in Yale’s Department of Geology. "This fossil is just outside the group or ‘clade’ that includes the decendants of that common ancestor. It is the best preserved specimen of a fossil from close to the radiation of all living birds discovered in over 100 years."

The finding is the most significant from this part of the avian tree since the discovery of specimens of the closest relative to living birds, Ichthyornis, first discovered more than 100 years ago in Kansas. These specimens of Ichthyornis are part of the permanent collection at Yale’s Peabody Museum of Natural History.

Clarke said the fossil dispels the notion that the ornithurines, or nearest relatives to today’s existing birds, were restricted to near shore environments while the interior was dominated by another lineage of fossil birds known as the "opposite birds" or Enantiornithes. The Enantiornithes are comparatively abundant in terrestrial deposits in the fossil record of Mesozoic, but went extinct at the end of the Cretaceous period, 65 million years ago.

"The new find suggests there was no reason to believe that there was a restriction of the nearest relative of living birds to coastlines by this lineage of ‘opposite birds,’" Clarke said. "Here is a near relative of living birds that is from a locality in a continental interior that was buried adjacent to abundant sand dunes."

The Apsaravis specimen from these terrestrial deposits reveals that the nearest relatives of the lineage including living birds were not restricted to a near shore or marine habitat and wading bird ecology , but that they were already occupying diverse environments and ecologies as different as those of seagulls and pigeons today.

The finding also has important implications in the current thinking about the evolution of birds after the origin of flight. The new fossil has a feature on a bone of its hand that indicates a muscle arrangement connecting the movement of the hand to movement of the forearm. This muscle arrangement seen in living birds performs a key role in transition from the upstroke to the down stroke.

"This automated part of the flight stroke was thought to be present before the origin of flight in other non-flighted theropod dinosaurs," Clarke said. "While other parts of the flight stroke were present in these other theropods, this part of the flight stroke is first clearly present only long after flight itself evolved."

Though earlier birds actively propelled themselves through the air, their flight was different from flight as we know it today in living birds. "This particular muscle arrangement is present in all flighted living birds today," Clarke said, "but we have no evidence of it evolutionarily before the new fossil."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Yale University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Yale University. "New Fossil Found In Mongolia Provides Insight Into The Origin Of Living Birds And The Evolution Of Flight." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 January 2001. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/01/010111074727.htm>.
Yale University. (2001, January 11). New Fossil Found In Mongolia Provides Insight Into The Origin Of Living Birds And The Evolution Of Flight. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/01/010111074727.htm
Yale University. "New Fossil Found In Mongolia Provides Insight Into The Origin Of Living Birds And The Evolution Of Flight." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/01/010111074727.htm (accessed December 18, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Fossils & Ruins News

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Researchers Bring Player Pianos Back to Life

Researchers Bring Player Pianos Back to Life

AP (Dec. 17, 2014) Stanford University wants to unlock the secrets of the player piano. Researchers are restoring and studying self-playing pianos and the music rolls that recorded major composers performing their own work. (Dec. 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Domestication Might've Been Bad For Horses

Domestication Might've Been Bad For Horses

Newsy (Dec. 16, 2014) A group of scientists looked at the genetics behind the domestication of the horse and showed how human manipulation changed horses' DNA. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Mozart, Beethoven, Shubert and Bizet Manuscripts to Go on Sale

Mozart, Beethoven, Shubert and Bizet Manuscripts to Go on Sale

AFP (Dec. 16, 2014) A collection of rare manuscripts by composers Mozart, Beethoven, Shubert and Bizet are due to go on sale at auction on December 17. Duration: 00:57 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Old Ship Records to Shed Light on Arctic Ice Loss

Old Ship Records to Shed Light on Arctic Ice Loss

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 15, 2014) Researchers are looking to the past to gain a clearer picture of what the future holds for ice in the Arctic. A project to analyse and digitize ship logs dating back to the 1850's aims to lengthen the timeline of recorded ice data. Ben Gruber reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins