Ancient Bird Had Arrow-like Tail Feathers

Posted on June 5, 2015

Artists impression of Gondwana bird with arrow-like tail feathers

Scientists have discovered the fossil of an ancient bird in northeast Brazil that had arrow-like tail feathers. The Cretaceous era fossil was discovered in the Araripe Basin. The bird inhabited Gondwana, one of the ancient supercontinents. The researchers say the fossil was preserved exceptionally well. The 3D structure of the feathers were preserved including some spots of the original color.

The scientists say the fossilized specimen - thought be a juvenile - was about the size of a hummingbird. They also say the unique tail feathers were not optimized for aerodynamical purposes. The researchers believe the feathers could have been associated with sexual display.

Photo of fossil of Mesozoic bird from Gondwana will well preserved tail feathers

Ismar de Souza Carvalho of the Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, the lead author of the study, describes the amazing fossil find in the following video. He says several thousands fossils have been found at the site in the Araripe Basin where the bird fossil was discovered.

Discovery reports that before this fossil find, prehistoric bird fossils with ornamental tail feathers had only been found in China. A research paper on the Mesozoic bird can be found here in the journal, Nature Communications.

Artist's Impression: Deverson Pepi

Photo: Ismar de Souza Carvalho, et. al./Nature Communications