A group of international palaeontologists has discovered the oldest modern bird fossil to date, dating back about 67 million years,media CNET reported. The new discovery challenges previous understandingof the origins of birds, including well-preserved skulls, similar to today’s ducks and chickens. The fossil is officially known as Asteriornis maastrichtensis, or known as “Wonderchicken” (Magic Chicken).
A study published Wednesday in the journal Nature describes the discovery of a series of bones buried in the Maastricht formation rock, where Belgian fossils are found. Paleontologists at the site saw leg bone fragments protruding from the rock surface and making their discoveries using high-resolution X-ray scanners. Beneath the surface, scans revealed a well-preserved skull.
Daniel Field, a paleontologist at the University of Cambridge, said: “We didn’t know how spectacular the new fossil sifted until we scanned some rocks with CT and their bird’s limb bones were poorly preserved. This was a shock to our scientific cause, and the name Wonderchicken was born when we realized that the fossils showed certain characteristics of birds like live chickens. “
The skull is almost completely intact, allowing researchers to perform a more thorough analysis of Wonderchicken’s position on the “tree of life.” The team found that the skull was almost identical to the birds in the Gerosla antelope herd, including land and waterfowl. Fossils date back between 66.7 million and 66.8 million years, which will give researchers a clearer picture of the evolution of modern birds.
“Fossils tell us that at least some modern birds have been smaller ground birds that live by the sea, at least in the early days,” Field said. The Maastricht formation contains fossils before an asteroid hit Earth and revolutionized the landscape.
Because of its connection to today’s birds, Wonderchicken must be able to survive an asteroid impact on Earth during the Dinosaur Age. Survivors of the incident are believed to have many characteristics, and Wonderchicken is relatively small in size. However, the location of the discovery is surprising. It challenges some of the previous ideas about the possible origins of modern birds.
In Wonderchicken’s time, the earth consisted of only two huge continents – Gunwana in the south (today’s continents are made up of Australia, Africa and South America, and the northern continent of La Lucia is made up of Asia, Russia and Europe. Previous findings have prompted paleontologists to speculate about the emergence of generationbirds, most of which originated in Gunwana. Wonderchicken, which was found in belgium today, was originally part of the continent of La Lucia.
“This is the first modern bird fossil found in the European dinosaur era, suggesting that future discoveries of older modern birds of the Mesothal age may also come from europe,” Field said. “
Work on the fossil side will continue, but Fielder says he is keen to quit and look for more evidence of modern birds. “Hopefully, once the pandemic is gone, we will be able to return to the wild and even find early evidence of modern birds from the dinosaur era.” Field said, “I bet that the wonderful chicken soup could have been eaten, very close to the ancestors of ducks and chickens, why not?”! “