Saturday, April 20, 2013


Confuciusornis sp. 2013 photoshop

          This is an image of the most exquisite fossil Mesazoic bird Confuciusornis.  Confuciusornis, named after the ancient Chinese philosopher Confucius, are from the early Cretaceous Yixian and 
Jiufotang formations of China and holds the current record for the oldest known bird with a fully modern beak.  No teeth in this mouth, however you will note in this restoration what is clearly preserved in the fossils are Confuciusornis' fingers and claws on it's wings.

          Many restorations of Confuciusornis depict the bird with the paired long tail feathers which have been found in several preservations.  Interestingly, most of the specimens (upwards of 85%) do not have the long tail streamers (Martin, L.D., Zhou, Z., Hou, L. & Feduccia, A., 1998, "Confuciusornis sanctus compared to Archaeopteryx lithographica", Naturwissenschaften 85: 286–289)  For this reason I have Chosen to not include the tail streamers.  There is currently debate regarding the tail, whether it was sexual dimorphism, subspecies, molting, lack of preservation or other reasons have all been proposed.

          Regardless of the tail possessed by this animal, it is a remarkable feathered fossil of a Mesozoic true Bird, not to be confused with the dinosaurian birds of the Mesozoic.  Not only does it have a fully developed beak and lack any teeth in the adult form but it also has shortened and fuzed tail vertebra as well.  I used modern tropical crows as reference for the coloration and in the future I would like to do more iterations of Confuciusornis with alternate color patterns and habitats, perhaps some in flight!

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