STL Science Center

STL Science Center

04 December 2015

Long Tails and Little Teeth

The bird from Jehol, a region in China (now Hebei Province), was turkey sized and capable of powered flight. Despite having teeth Jeholornis had a diet consisting of mostly seeds. Their long tails, however, were used for flight, and were therefore much more bird-like than their teeth. Regardless, the main attraction of Jeholornis was neither its long tail nor its mouth that contained small teeth. Their claim to fame was is their clear flight abilities and the fact that that powered flight was achieved with well preserved feathers. Those feathers are asymmetrical, an important adaptation in powered flight.The other important characteristic associated with Jeholornis is the shear number of specimens and the variety that may (only seven have been described) be preserved in those specimens is a very intriguing and important for the history of birds. This week's bird is also quite beautiful, as far as delicate bird fossils go.
From O'Connor, et al. 2013

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