Europe's last Mesozoic bird

Gareth J. Dyke, Rudi W. Dortangs, John W. Jagt, Eric W. Mulder, Anne S. Schulp, Luis M. Chiappe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Birds known from more than isolated skeletal elements are rare in the fossil record, especially from the European Mesozoic. This paucity has hindered interpretations of avian evolution immediately prior to, and in the aftermath of, the Cretaceous-Tertiary (K-T) extinction event. We report on a specimen of a large ornithurine bird (closely related to Ichthyornis) from the uppermost Cretaceous (Maastricht Formation) of Belgium. This is the first record of a bird from these historic strata and the only phylogenetically informative ornithurine to be recovered from the Mesozoic of Europe. Because this new specimen was collected from 40 m below the K-T boundary (approximate age of 65.8 Ma), it is also the youngest non-neornithine (=non-modern) bird known from anywhere in the world.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)408-411
Number of pages4
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2002


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