Diving Birds of the Dinosaur Era
When in the depth of the winter, a full hundred miles from the nearest land, one sees a loon in the path of the steamer, listens to its weird, maniacal laughter, and sees it slowly sink downward through the green waters, it truly seems a hint of the bird-life of long-past ages. – William Beebe, The Bird: Its Form and Function, 1906.
In 1872, Yale paleontologist Othniel Charles Marsh described a very peculiar bird. The fossil avian, found in the Cretaceous strata of Kansas, looked like a loon with a mouth full of sharp teeth. He called his find Hesperornis regalis.
The bird was more than a bizarre creature from an ancient era. The fact that