Sunday, June 14, 2015

Science News! First-of-its-kind bird fossil found in Brazil!

New fossil found that shows feather colors!!!
Since I (Rob) was a kid I've been fascinated with dinosaurs and had a fossil collection (although I'm unsure what happened to it). So, whenever I see science news about new fossils found I get all excited about it. 

First-of-its-kind bird fossil found in Brazil


It dates back approximately 115 million years and reveals a prehistoric bird with long tail feathers, a first-of-its-kind find for South America.
Scientists have discovered a bird fossil in the Araripe Basin of northeastern Brazil, now believed to be the oldest bird ever found in the country. According to the findings published this month (June 2, 2015) in Nature Communications, the fossil dates back to the Cretaceous Period, approximately 115 million years ago. This unique animal is so well preserved that its long tail feathers may have retained their original color and spots. It’s a first-of-its-kind find for South America, and, the scientists say:
This evidence currently constitutes the most informative source to understand the early evolution of bird feathers.
Artist's depiction of the prehistoric bird
Bird fossils from the Cretaceous Period, the last and longest epoch of the Mesozoic Era, are sparse. Preserved birds with feathers are extremely rare with a number of previous skeletal remains flattened with poorly preserved feathers. Until now the best specimens of early birds have been found in China in two-dimensional slabs.
Paleontologists Ismar Carvalho and Fernando Novas of the Federal University of Rio de Janerio found the new fossil, which retains its three-dimensional shape, giving researchers an exquisite look at its unique plumage. Filamentous feathers – sometimes called “protofeathers,” as there is disagreement over whether they are true feathers as we know them today – cover the currently unnamed specimen. It has 10 secondary remiges, or flight feathers, anchored to the forearm.
The most interesting feature of this hummingbird-sized animal are the long ribbon-like tail feathers, measured to be 30 percent longer than the length of the main skeleton. The fossil is so well preserved that scientists can distinguish five spots from the original tail feathers, along with remnants of an ornamental color pattern.

Curiously, the elongated ribbon-like tail feathers seen on this fossil are unknown in living birds, making it difficult for scientist to interpret their function. The ribbon feathers are anatomically different from modern tail-feathers, which today’s birds use for body balance.

Other examples of complex plumage, such as the Confuciusornis, have been found in China, however. Researchers agree that these structures were likely sexually dimorphic – that is, different in appearance between males and females of the same species. The structures were likely associated with sexual display or visual communication.
The Araripe Basin has yielded a variety of well-preserved fossils from a number of plants and animals, creating one of the best-known terrestrial ecosystems for the early Cretaceous Period. This area was a vibrant lakebed 145 to 66 million years ago, with numerous fossil discoveries of insects, reptiles, and bony fish.
This latest discovery provides deeper insight into this area’s ancient ecosystem, and sparks further investigation of the evolutionary split between modern day birds and their dinosaur ancestors.
The discoverers, Ismar Carvalho and Fernando Novas, describe the fossil discoveries of the Araripe Basin, including the new bird fossil, in the video below.

Gift/Memorial Suggestions

Several of our friends have lost loved ones (human and pets) and we found that one of the best ways to honor their memory is to give to an animal charity.
What better way to recognize a life of love, than by giving another life a chance for love?
We donate to many animal rescues, but because we volunteer with
DC Weimaraner Rescue and Coast-to-Coast Dachshund Rescue, those are our 2 favorites.
Consider giving the chance of life to a dog or cat.

About us

We're two married guys who enjoy the simple things in life, especially our dogs. We volunteer for dog rescues, enjoy splitting dinners, exercising, blogging, helping friends and neighbors, ghost investigations, coffee and tea, Tudor history, weather, superheroes, comic books, mystery novels, traveling, 70s and 80s music, classic country, piano, gardening, writing books on ghosts and spirits, architecture, keeping a clean house, cooking simply, and keeping in shape. You'll find tidbits of all of these things on this blog and more.

Tom and Rob Thinking Hard!

Tom and Rob Thinking Hard!
Wondering what home project to do next