Friday, 20 October 2017

Early Bird Preened Its Feathers – Just Like Modern Ones

An early bird could have looked like this. Image courtesy of El fosilmaníaco, CC BY-SA 4.0..

Joel Kontinen

Birds have not changed their habits – or anatomy – for ”48 million years”.

A paper published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B describes a fossilized bird found in the Messel Pit in Germany.

An article in discloses what was special about this bird:

Upon examination of the remains, the team discovered an object near where its tail feathers had once been, which looked similar to the uropygial gland in modern birds—it produces an oil for feather preening. Preening with an oily material waterproofs feathers, and in some cases, can help birds ward off bacteria and fungi.”

The discovery calls into question two icons of evolutionary thought: millions of years and the Darwinian concept of evolution. Soft tissue should not last tens of millions of years and birds should not be able to resist change for aeons.


Yirka, Bob. 2017. Fatty bird gland preserved over 48 million years. (18 October).