Evolutionary dead-end for toothed birds

2013-01-08 14:45
Toothed birds were an evolutionary dead end. (Stephanie Abramowicz)

Toothed birds were an evolutionary dead end. (Stephanie Abramowicz)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Cape Town - A newly discovered bird fossil has shed light on the dynamics of the evolutionary process. Sulcavis geeorum was discovered in the Liaoning Province of China.

Fossil dating suggests that it lived during the Early Cretaceous between 121 and 125 million years ago. S geeorum forms part of an early group of birds called enantiornithines which are the only known birds to have developed a variety of tooth structures.

Scientists are still puzzled as to why they died out at the end of the Cretaceous period. Jingmai O’Connor, lead author of the study published in the Journal of Vertebrate Palaeontology, suggests that “maybe differences in diet played a part”.

Dr Jurie van den Heever from the Palaeontology Research Group at Stellenbosch University agrees that the diversity of the enantiornithines is not clearly understood. “One often sees early diversity in a group which later settles into a less diverse pattern of evolution,” he told News24.

In the case of the enantiornithines, diversity was lessened with extinction of species like S geeorum.

“It’s almost as if various anatomical options were initially tried and later reduced to the more viable adaptations,” said van den Heever. SA does not have any bird fossils from the Cretaceous period. Despite having an extensive fossil record the terrestrial deposits of the Cretaceous have mostly been eroded and now lies below the sea.

- Follow Dane on Twitter
Read more on:    palaeontology

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Millions of plastic particles in our food!

Scientists and researchers believe that almost five million tons of plastic is dumped in the oceans every year and it’s affecting our food.



Plastic on your plate
Prince George the green prince?
Lean, green, drifiting machine
One man's $1 million vision for an eco Africa

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts

Trying to keep time for your social commitments and friendships as well as taking care of work and health obligations can be a...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.