STL Science Center

STL Science Center

05 December 2015

Flying and Chasing

(C) Emily Willoughby
Jeholornis is hypothesized to have been a seed eating bird with a long tail and claws on its wings. The long tail and the claws on the wings are more than a hypothesis, of course, as they are present on many of the slab fossils that have been described and published. The other 93 plus unpublished specimens could have wonderful claws and tails, but we may not know for a very long time. The nicest fossils are published on first, which we should expect, and those beautiful fossils have painted a wonderful picture of an active little early bird. As stated at the start of this entry, the hypothesized diet of Jeholornis included seeds with a potential ability to ingest the leaves of plants like gingko themselves. In this image our favorite little bird (for this week) is actively eating gingko leaves off a small branch. Not knowing that that plant was gingko, it may also appear as though this Jeholornis is staring down the dragonflies on the tree it is standing near. Regardless, the long tail with its short caudal retrices and the claws on its wings are well represented here. The images of these traits could be slightly different depending on the illustrator, but I chose this image because I think it does a great job of representing the anatomy.

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