Confuciusornis shifan


    In News

    • Recently, paleontologists have announced the discovery of a fossil beaked bird ancestor in northeastern China.

    Key Points

    • About Discovery:
      • The title of paper: “A new confuciusornithid bird with a secondary epiphyseal ossification reveals phylogenetic changes in confuciusornithid flight mode.”
      • The findings in detail in the prestigious journal Nature Communications Biology. 
      • The nearly complete fossil is of a beaked bird that lived in what is now China during the Early Cretaceous epoch, some 119 million years ago.
    • Significance:
      • The preserved specimens will collectively provide rich information on Confucian ornithid morphology, taxonomy, flight ability, growth, diet and ecology.
      • The new find strikingly exemplifies the morphological, developmental and functional diversity of the first beaked birds.
    • About Confuciusornis shifan:
      • Confuciusornis is a genus of extinct raven-billed bird in the family Confuciusornithidae. 
        • Confuciusornithidae is a clade of Early Cretaceous pygostylian birds known from the Jehol Biota of East Asia, 
      • It weighed less than 200 grams and was smaller than most other confuciusornithid species.
      • It represents the earliest known toothless, beaked birds.
      • It is different from other Mesozoic birds due to the presence of an additional cushion-like bone in the first digit of the wing. 
        • This feature is significant as it may have helped the bird meet the functional demand of flight at a stage when the skeletal growth was still incomplete.
    • Origin of Name:
      • The specific name is derived from the Mandarin “shifan”, meaning a paragon of all teachers, in honor of Confucius. 
      • The name also commemorates the 70th anniversary of Shenyang Normal University (Shenyang Shifan Daxue).