An artist’s rendering of Tingmiatornis arctica (University of Rochester illustration/Michael Osadciw)
The University of Rochester has announced a team of geologists there has discovered a prehistoric species of bird in the Canadian Arctic. The fossils, estimated to be some 90 million years old, are believed to be among the oldest avian records found in the northernmost latitude.
The team’s work was funded in part by a grant from the National Science Foundation and is featured in the publication Scientific Reports.
The bird, described as looking like a cross between a seagull and a diving bird, helps scientists paint a better picture of the ecosystem that would have existed in the Canadian Arctic during the Cretaceous period’s Turonian age, which lasted from approximately 93.9 million to 89.8 million years ago.
John Tarduno, professor and chairman of the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, led the expedition. He and his team, which included both undergraduate and graduate students, named the bird Tingmiatornis arctica.
Building historic climate records helps scientists determine the effects of climate on various ecosystems and could help predict the effects of future climatic events, officials said.
“The fossils tell us what that world could look like, a world without ice at the arctic,” said Richard Bono, a Ph.D. candidate in earth and environmental sciences at the university and a member of the expedition. “It would have looked very different than today where you have tundra and fewer animals.”
The team unearthed three of the bird’s bones, all from its wings.
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