Paleo Profile: The Smoke Hill Bird
During the late 19th century, as paleontologists were starting to uncover an array of prehistoric species that evolutionary theory predicted must have existed, ancient birds from the Cretaceous rock of Kansas became a scientific sensation. These were birds with teeth. The pair of them – dubbed Ichthyornis and Hesperornis by Yale’s Othniel Charles Marsh – underscored that birds evolved from toothy reptilian ancestors (which we now know were dinosaurs akin to Velociraptordinosaurs akin to Velociraptor).
Not that the archaic avians have always been popular. Upon seeing the government-funded monograph on the birds Marsh produced, penny-pinching congressmen turned “Birds with teeth!” as an incredulous cost-cutting rallying cry. And while the birds still