Brazil: Peacock-Like Ancient Bird Species Tail Feathers Have Weird Implications

If there were ever a reason to proudly wear your colors, this ancient Northeast Brazilian bird species has got all the persuasion. Its color split-tail with ribbon-like, arrow-like feathers forces it to stand out despite its diminutive size.

Ancient Bird Species Like a Hummingbird Peacock

Paleontologists have discovered an new bird species from about 150 million years ago. So this Mesozoic era (about 115-million-years ago) bird is more of an ancient bird species than a new. But this is precisely why it is able to tell us so much about the evolution of our world — especially because its ornamental feathers remind of Charles Darwin’s biggest challenger to natural selection, the peacock.

Not unlike the peacock of Darwin’s nightmares, this ancient bird could aptly be described with the expression “form over function”. Probably geared toward sexual attractiveness and visual communication, its feathers do not optimize its natural aerodynamics. Fortunately, it’s only about 5.5 inches, much like a hummingbird — in size anyway.


Araripe Basin and A Supercontinent Called Gondwana

This ancient bird’s fossils were found in the Araripe Basin in Brazil in 2011. The Araripe Basin has already been a hub of paleontological discovery. Researchers have been able to find fossils of ancient reptiles, insects, fish, and plants pretty commonly.

As it stands, it is considered one of the oldest bird fossils ever discovered. The research by Ismar de Souza Carvalho, a professor of paleontology as well as geology at Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, is enthusiastic about the fossils ability to teach us more about terrestrial ecosystems of the Mesozoic era in this region of the world.

During the time of this ancient bird’s existence on Earth, the continents as we know it had not formed. Gondwana, the home of this ancient bird, was the name of the more southern of the two continents part of Pangea. Consisting of Africa, Antarctica, Australia, India and South America, Gondwana formed before Pangea and then became a part of Pangea. Eventually Gondwana separated from Pangea after Pangea broke into many continents.

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What Can Be Learned From Ancient Bird Species Fossil?

The fossil’s properties suggests this bird species died young, but the causes were indeterminable. It was dateable to the Early Cretaceous period of the Mesozoic era. In the past, fossils from ancient bird species with these types of arrow-like tail feathers were found, but only in China. In theory, this bird could have migrated despite its feathers. If this turned out to be the case, form and function might not be mutually exclusive for once.