STL Science Center

STL Science Center

22 June 2012

More Toothed Birds Please

©Nobu Tamura
We are officially on the wing again this week with Ichthyornis. Ichthyornis dispar is the solitary species in the genus and ranged along the entire inland sea of North America from Alberta, Canada to Mexico. Ichthyornis was the first toothed bird to be discovered and at a time in which Darwin's version of a theory of evolution (we are scientists, we know there was more than one theory out there) was gaining momentum even outside the sciences during the calendar year of 1870. The size of a pigeon with a 17 inch wingspan, the Ichthyornis possessed a rather unique vertebral column which resulted in its name being "fish-bird." It is believed to have been the Cretaceous version of a seagull or petrel, so you can imagine a pigeon sized toothed seagull in the parking lot at the beach and have a fairly accurate picture of Ichthyornis.

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