Ever since the birdlike dinosaur Archaeopteryx was first discovered in 1861, paleontologists have tried to decipher the evolutionary origins of modern birds—the only surviving descendants of the dinosaurs.
Now, paleontologists based out of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) have reached a new milestone in this quest. The CAS team has discovered the oldest fossils from the Ornithuromorpha group of dinosaurs, the common ancestor of all modern bird species.
The two specimens date back 130 million years to the Early Cretaceous period, when pterosaurs still dominated the skies. They belong to a new species named Archaeornithura meemannae, a feathered wading bird that lived in what is now northeastern China. The CAS team, led by paleontologist Min Wang, published a detailed analysis of the new specimens today in Nature Communications.
Meet Wisdom, the oldest known wild bird in the world, who at an estimated age of 65, just had her 40th chick. Welcome to the world, little Kūkini!
Image: Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge #nature http://ift.tt/1RxWcA4
Wisdom, the oldest known bird in the wild, has a new chick! This weekend Kūkuni (Hawaiian for “messenger”) hatched under the watchful eyes of Wisdom’s mate, pictured here.
Laysan albatrosses travel thousands of miles each year, returning to Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument each year to lay their eggs. Facing threats on their journeys like marine debris, habitat degredation and invasive species, these amazing persevering birds are indicators of the health of our ocean. Kūkuni truly is a messenger to remind us all to care for our ocean!
The Polish or Poland is a European breed of chicken known for its crest of feathers. The oldest accounts of these birds come from the Netherlands; their exact origins are unknown, however. In addition to combs, they are adorned with large crests that nearly
cover the entirety of the head. This crest limits their vision, and as a
result can affect their temperament. Thus, though normally tame, they
may be timid and easily frightened. Polish chickens are bred primarily as a show bird, but were originally productive egg layers.
Today there is something to be thankful for at Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge - Wisdom, the world’s oldest living, banded, wild bird has returned! In the picture above, she can be seen (on the left) preening her mate. Wisdom’s mate has been waiting within a few feet of the pair’s former nest site since Wednesday, November 19. Wisdom was first spotted on November 22. we can celebrate by knowing she survived another year at sea and maybe returning very soon.
This isn’t the first time these two have readied their nest. Laysan albatrosses mate for life and Wisdom has raised between 30 to 35 chicks since being banded in 1956 at an estimated age of 5. Laying only one egg per year, a breeding albatross will spend a tiring 130 days (approximately) incubating and raising a chick.
Albatross face many threats. Chicks can’t fly away from invasive predators like rats or escape weather-related risks like flooding and hot spells. If they make it to adulthood, they face different threats. Manmade problems like marine debris and pollution are dangers faced by all albatross. Although the population of Laysan albatross has strengthened to roughly 2.5 million, 19 out of the 22 species of albatross are threatened or endangered.
Midway Atoll NWR is home to the largest albatross colony in the world and 70% of the world’s Laysan albatross population
World’s Oldest Wild Bird Returns With a Mate at 64
On the 19th of November, a Laysan albatross named ‘Wisdom’ returned to the Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge and Battle of Midway National Memorial – a week before thanksgiving. The refuge and the memorial are home to 70% of the world’s albatross population. She has returned to the colony almost after a year and was spotted with a mate by wildlife refuge volunteers. She left the colony soon after mating and is expected back soon, to lay her egg.
The Mesozoic Park: The oldest avian ancestor (so far)
While 145 million year old Archaeopteryx retains its title as the oldest known bird, it comes from a branch of the birdy bush of life that went extinct along with the dinosaurs at the end of the Cretaceous (65 million years ago). All modern chirpers are classified as ornithuromorpha, and their lineage just got 5 million years older with the publication of a new find (named Archaeornithura meemanna) from the ever provident Jehol formation in China (see for info on these top notch fossil bearing strata).
The Messager Birds of Mahoutokoro
Similar to how wizards in Europe mainly use owls for delivering
messages, the wizards of Japan mainly send letters and packages with
cranes. The practice of magicians using cranes can be dated all the way
back to the earliest recorded history during the Kofun era from 250 to
538 AD but could be farther than that since cranes are one of the oldest
species of bird. With
one’s individual status being a deeply respected trait in Wizarding Japan, different
cranes are used to symbolize and emphasize rank.
Depending on the wizard’s status in the magic society, different and
more rare cranes are used as they climb. Starting out as a student, most
will receive a hooded crane which is a dark-grey colored bird that is
one of the smallest types of cranes. Past six years of wizarding school,
the students may receive a bird of a bit higher class like a common
crane that is medium-sized. This species is
acquiring a job after graduating, young adult wizards are allowed to
keep a white-naped crane which is large in size with pinkish legs, grey
and white striped neck, and a red face patch. Wizards of the
highest social standing are rewarded the red-crowned crane which is one
of the largest and most beautiful of cranes found in Japan. This bird is extremely
rare and has been in the center of Japanese legends for centuries.
Sending a letter with a red-crowned crane commands the highest respect
and authority than any other crane. In Japan, the crane is highly regarded for its
beauty and was considered a sign of happiness and eternal youth. To send
word through a crane means to send someone good wishes for their health