STL Science Center

STL Science Center

27 June 2012

Widely Known Birds

Ichthyornis, as we have mentioned, is one of those more widely known fossilized birds. Its remains have been found north to south along the entire coast of what was once the inland sea that spread across North America during the Cretaceous when it floated and darted about the sky with other contemporary birds and the last of the pterosaurs. Adults and immature specimens of the bird have been found, which allows a lifeline study of members of the species and most undoubtedly allowed for the exhaustive amount of research we saw yesterday, of course, being one of the most commonly found fossils in a given formation of earth also helps in allowing for more and more study to be done on an animal. The original panel of the composite of pieces labeled I. victor, a now unused synonym, shown below, is almost comical in its near completeness and arrangement. It almost looks like the bird was in the midst of stretching its wings when it was frozen in time, and plaster.
The panel is plastered composite pieces of skeleton of Ichthyornis and some other nondescript bones of birds meant to give it the near complete look it has. The funniest thing about the mounted specimen when placed in the Peabody Museum at Yale was that it, for one, was supposed to represent a now non-recognized species, and for two, was not made of a single bone from the specimen which it was supposed to represent. Jacques Gauthier had the panels dismantled to determine what was made of what and Julia Clarke's paper shared yesterday was the result of studying the remains of the two panel's specimens, amongst other things of course. The list of synonyms after Clarke's study, and Michael Mortimer's assertion that the species should be I. ancesps rather than I. dispar after a more senior synonym, has become fairly large. I. dispar, however, still holds as the name of the species instead of I. ancesps. There is, sometimes though it has grown exceedingly rare since the 1950's, the belief that the jaws still belong to a young Clidastes rather than to a bird; Clidastes is the smallest known mososaur.

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