extinction

Mystery: Extinct birds as well adapted for flight as surviving modern ones

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Fossilized wishbone (furcula)David Strauss

But they aren’t the ancestors of the modern ones. They died out, but why? From ScienceDaily:

“We know that birds in the early Cretaceous, about 115 to 130 million years ago, were capable of flight but probably not as well adapted for it as modern birds,” said Atterholt, who is now an assistant professor and human anatomy instructor at the Western University of Health Sciences in Pomona, California. “What this new fossil shows is that enantiornithines, though totally separate from modern birds, evolved some of the same adaptations for highly refined, advanced flight styles.”

If enantiornithines in the late Cretaceous were just as advanced as modern birds, however, why did they die out with the dinosaurs while the ancestors of modern birds did not?

“This particular bird is about 75 million years old, about 10 million years before the die-off,” Atterholt said. “One of the really interesting and mysterious things about enantiornithines is that we find them throughout the Cretaceous, for roughly 100 million years of existence, and they were very successful. We find their fossils on every continent, all over the world, and their fossils are very, very common, in a lot of areas more common than the group that led to modern birds. And yet modern birds survived the extinction while enantiornithines go extinct.”

One recently proposed hypothesis argues that the enantiornithines were primarily forest dwellers, so that when forests went up in smoke after the asteroid strike that signaled the end of the Cretaceous — and the end of non-avian dinosaurs — the enantiornithines disappeared as well. Many enantiornithines have strong recurved claws ideal for perching and perhaps climbing, she said.

“I think it is a really interesting hypothesis and the best explanation I have heard so far,” Atterholt said. “But we need to do really rigorous studies of enantiornithines’ ecology, because right now that part of the puzzle is a little hand-wavey.”

We know we are getting somewhere with the science part of it all when “hand-wavey” is seen as a problem.

“What is most exciting, however, are large patches on the forearm bones. These rough patches are quill knobs, and in modern birds they anchor the wing feathers to the skeleton to help strengthen them for active flight. This is the first discovery of quill knobs in any enantiornithine bird, which tells us that it was a very strong flier.” Paper. (open access) – Jessie Atterholt, J. Howard Hutchison, Jingmai K. O’Connor. The most complete enantiornithine from North America and a phylogenetic analysis of the Avisauridae. PeerJ, 2018; 6: e5910 DOI: 10.7717/peerj.5910
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See also: Mystery: ENST comments on the fossil African turaco found in North America at 52 mya …

Shaking the bird family tree: African-type bird fossil from 52 mya found in North America. In this case, what the fossil record tells us poses a problem for biogeography (the distribution of life forms worldwide over time). At 52 million years ago, North America was thousands of kilometres from Africa. Did the birds migrate? Could they?

Reptile had bird-like head 100 million years before birds

4 Replies to “Mystery: Extinct birds as well adapted for flight as surviving modern ones

  1. 1
    Mung says:

    It’s only an appearance of adaptation.

  2. 2
    vmahuna says:

    I’m gonna guess that the entire family of extinct birds appeared POOF! without ancestors.

    And then modern birds replaced them by appearing POOF!, fully formed and capable of flight without “evolving” from the extinct families.

    I also have to wonder whether the alleged relations/descent of modern birds from dinosaurs is actually parallel development of the dinos and enantiornithines. That is, if the enantiornithines have many of the same anatomical features of modern birds, then they should also have many anatomical features in dinosaurs. So modern birds are NOT “living dinosaurs”. Enantiornithines are simply “more dead dinosaurs”.

    Dinos and their feathered relatives all died out together for reasons that are still unknown. If that asteroid in Central America was the killer, then why did animals as fragile as frogs survive? And how come ONLY aquatic DINOSAURS disappeared, not large bony fish? And more specifically, how come the KT Boundary is not FILLED with fossils of the dinos that MUST have DIS-appeared POOF! in less than a single year?

    At some point we’re gonna need a new version of the story.

  3. 3
    Pearlman says:

    RCCF aligns w/ the 1656 anno mundi mass extinction ‘Mabul’ impacts event.

    more soft tissue, a smoking gun that that event was thousands, not millions, of years ago. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enantiornithes

    reference RCCF framework for understanding science.

  4. 4
    tjguy says:

    https://crev.info/2018/11/extinct-cretaceous-birds-flew/

    Commentary at the end of the article:

    “Evolutionists are committed to their dinobird story: “All birds evolved from feathered theropods – the two-legged dinosaurs like T. rex – beginning about 150 million years ago,” the article argues by assertion, “and developed into many lineages in the Cretaceous, between 146 and 65 million years ago.” And yet here are two serious flaws in their story. If the origin of powered flight in birds was miraculous once, how about more than once, with the results being so close as to make the two bird groups almost indistinguishable? The second flaw is how all but the “modern birds” group survived the extinction.

    This is typical of articles on evolution. They tell you flatly and confidently that “it evolved,” then present conundrums that leave you breathless with incredulity. Powered flight multiple times? Convergence so close as to be indistinguishable? Selective extinction? Something is dreadfully wrong with this story. Imagine inventing something able to lift its body weight against gravity, and do it with finesse and agility, and then attributing it to blind natural forces? That assertion should sound crazy from square one. The rest of the story falls out of the sky like a plucked chicken when you think about it. Why not start with the obvious attributes of intelligent design that make these animals strong flyers? At least you remove the worst of the conundrums, and only have to worry about the selective extinction. It’s much easier to explain things dying out than evolving.”

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