March 22, 2020

Dr. Daniel Field holding a replica of Asteriornis maastrichtensis skull (Photo courtesy University of Cambdridge)

An article published in the journal “Nature” reports the identification of a new primitive bird that lived near the end of the Cretaceous period, almost 67 million years ago, near the border between today’s Belgium and Holland. A team of researchers led by the University of Cambridge subjected the fossil bones of what was named Asteriornis maastrichtensis to a high resolution CT-scan to create 3D reconstructions. In particular, the skull is one of the best preserved among bird fossils. Its characteristics bring together those of modern chickens and ducks, suggesting that it’s a species very close to their last common ancestor.