August 11, 2011 | David F. Coppedge

Big Birds Lived with Dinosaurs

The largest flying bird is the California Condor with a wingspan of 2.9 meters.  The largest flightless bird is the ostrich, up to 1.7 to 2.8 meters tall.  These are shrimps compared to extinct birds that lived with dinosaurs.  A fossil jaw from a Cretaceous bird has been found in Kazakhstan.  The BBC News said, “If flightless, the bird would have been 2-3m tall; if it flew, it may have had a wingspan of 4m.”  The find raises questions about what scientists know about the age of dinosaurs.

According to the BBC News, this jawbone, nearly twice as long as that of an ostrich, “is further evidence that giant birds roamed – or flew above – the Earth at the same time as the dinosaurs.”  Not only that, it shows that large birds lived when pterosaurs flew, and possibly shared airspace.  “I think the really interesting thing is that they’re living alongside the big dinosaurs we know were around at the time: big tyrannosaurs, long-necked sauropods, duck-billed dinosaurs,” said Dr. Darren Naish of the University of Portsmouth.  “That opens up loads of questions about ecological interactions that we can only speculate about.”

This shows that prior speculations have been wrong.  Even now, little can be said about this bird from just its jaw.  They don’t know if it flew, and they don’t know what it looked like.  It just shows that large birds existed alongside T. rex and other Cretaceous dinosaurs.  Since soft tissue is available from the former, we can expect that it could be available from bird fossils, and that both are not tens of millions of years old.

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Categories: Biology, Birds, Dinosaurs, Fossils

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