Paleontologists have now found the oldest modern bird skull ever, and if this tidbit does not yet excite you, perhaps what you will learn about this bird will. Since this bird predates the split between ducks, chickens, and turkeys, it has traits of all the three birds mentioned. It is, in other words, a 3-in-1 bird, and for these characteristics, let us aptly call this bird the turducken.
“This is an incredibly informative specimen,” says Amy Balanoff, a paleontologist at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, who wasn’t involved in the work. Whereas the earliest birds, like the 150-million-year old Archaeopteryx, look very different from today’s, the new fossil has clear characteristics of modern land and waterfowl, perhaps offering a glimpse of their common ancestor…
The scan revealed a complete skull of what looked like a modern bird. The bones in the top and the back of the head closely resemble those of modern ducks, whereas the face and beak have unfused bones, as seen in today’s chickens and turkeys. “You can play this game all day: ‘Oh, it’s a duck! No, it’s a chicken!’” Field says.
More details about this over at Science Magazine.
(Image Credit: Phillip Krzeminski)