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Silurian Bird (joke? please?)
Hi All -
One of our museum's volunteers had a copy of this paper, and it was
so completely absurd that I thought the list would love to hear about it!
I can't give a proper citation, as there's little information on the first
page. It was published c. 1977 in the _Original Report of the Okamura
Fossil Laboratory_ #13 -- no author, title, etc. are given, but it does say
"This paper was reported at the 119th regular meeting of the Japanese
Paleontological Society on June 18, 1977 at the Shizuoka University,
Shizuoka Prefecture." (If anyone's got a full citation, I'd greatly
appreciate getting it!)
Anyway, I'll reproduce the Introduction here, and let you see for
yourselves! (There's supposed to be a figure or two with the paper, but
these are also lacking from my copy). Notice the size...
In the same matriz contained the fossilized _Spirodela salina_,
_Cyanophyceae_ and _Porpita umbella_, all of which have been reported in
previous papers, I have discovered this time, a small unique pattern of
less than 10 mm in length. It seemed to have been made up of a head with
one visible eye, a neck, trunk, bill, wings, tail, and limbs and especially
noticeable was the fact that it was furnished with feathers and
saddle-shaped vertebrae; namely all the elemental components of a bird.
In this matrix I was able to find up to the present time only
_Faveosites_ as index fossils.
However, I was successful this time in searching for the
_Halysites_ in it. Consequently, I concluded that the above three kinds of
living things and this newly found bird must belong to the Silurian Period.
Originally, the beginning of the age of birds was thought to be in
the Jurassian Period. Therefore, the appearance of a Silurian bird should
be caused for public discussion.
It gets better, too: the paper not only (albeit briefly) describes
all the bones and feathers, but goes on to discuss lungs, stomach,
intestines, heart, kidney, pancreas, and liver. The beak is described as
similar to living Anatidae, so the author named the thing _Archaeoanas
...obviously, someone has mistaken a fish fossil (and probably a
young one, too!), which isn't without precedent; around this same time, a
Spanish paleontologist mistook a badly decayed hybodontid shark for a bird
(with fin element impressions splayed around some bones in a fashion
remarkably similar to the wing feathers in the London _Archaeopteryx_
specimen -- the resultant bird was called _Priscavolucris_). Still, I'd
love to know what became of this specimen! Anyone know?
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Jerry D. Harris
Fossil Preparation Lab
New Mexico Museum of Natural History
1801 Mountain Rd NW
Albuquerque NM 87104-1375
Phone: (505) 899-2809
Fax: (505) 841-2866