Skip to comments.Eocene Fossil of Hummingbird-Swift Relative Found in Wyoming
Posted on 05/05/2013 12:37:00 PM PDT by SunkenCiv
First collected in southwestern Wyoming in a fossil site known as the Green River Formation, Eocypselus rowei lived about 50 million years ago. It was a small creature about 12 cm long (from head to tail), and weighed less than an ounce...
The fossil is unusual in having exceptionally well-preserved feathers, which allowed the researchers to reconstruct the size and shape of the birds wings in ways not possible with bones alone. Feathers account for more than half of the birds total wing length...
The analysis suggests that the bird was an evolutionary precursor to the group that includes todays swifts and hummingbirds.
Given the differences in wing shape between these two closely related groups of birds, the researchers have puzzled over how swift and hummingbird flight came to be. Finding fossil relatives like this specimen is the key to figuring that out.
Hummingbirds have short wings relative to their bodies, which makes them good at hovering in mid-air. Swifts have super-long wings for gliding and high-speed flight. But the wings of Eocypselus rowei were somewhere in between...
The shape of the birds wings, coupled with its tiny size, suggest that the ancestors of todays swifts and hummingbirds got small before each groups unique flight behavior came to be...
Closer study of the feathers under a scanning electron microscope revealed that carbon residues in the fossils once thought to be traces of bacteria that fed on feathers are fossilized melanosomes, tiny cell structures containing melanin pigments that give birds and other animals their color.
The findings suggest that the ancient bird was probably black and may have had a glossy or iridescent sheen, like swifts living today. Based on its beak shape it probably ate insects.
(Excerpt) Read more at sci-news.com ...
|GGG managers are SunkenCiv, StayAt HomeMother & Ernest_at_the_Beach|
I'm sure this will cause a *flap*. /rimshot!
It’s a damn bird....big whoop....How much grant money will this 50 year study cost us?
So, at least in terms of color, 50 million years of evolution have yielded ... no real change.
Your point being?
Not true. Hummingbirds are very colorful and iridescent, while swifts are black and iridescent.
Thanks Paleo Conservative!
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.