Dinosaur-Era Bird Found With Shockingly Intact Skull
The unprecedented Ichthyornis fossil from Kansas offers fresh perspective on bird evolution.
A delicate but remarkably well-preserved fossil skull is providing new clues to how birds evolved from their dinosaur ancestors.
The first known fossil of the ancient bird Ichthyornis was unearthed in 1870 in Kansas, under the direction of legendary fossil-hunter Othniel Charles Marsh. The species hails from a time in the Cretaceous period, between 100 and 66 million years ago, when birds were in the process of losing many of the traits inherited from their dinosaur forebears and evolving into the winged, feathered creatures we know today. (See a Cretaceous baby bird found preserved in amber.)
While many stunning specimens of Cretaceous birds have been found in China, these fossils are often compressed almost flat, leaving researchers guessing at