Museum of Nature & Science Announces Oldest Definitive Bird Fossils in North America Found in North Texas

Mar 23, 2010, 10:40 ET from Museum of Nature & Science

DALLAS, March 23 /PRNewswire/ -- The Museum of Nature & Science in Dallas recently announced the discovery of the oldest definitive bird fossils yet recorded in North America, an enantiornithine bird from the lower Middle Cenomanian (approximately 96 million years before present) of Texas. The specimens found near Grapevine Lake were recently published in one of the profession's foremost publications, the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology. With this finding, the Museum's two paleontologists, Dr. Tony Fiorillo and Dr. Ron Tykoski, continue their work as part of the international vertebrate paleontology community. The new species has been named after fossil enthusiast and Carrollton resident Kris Howe, who found it.

(Photo:  http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20100323/DA75138)

"This is the culmination of a dream for any fossil enthusiast," said Dr. Fiorillo, head paleontologist and Curator at the Museum of Nature & Science. "Kris Howe decided to search an area of exposed rock near Grapevine Lake. He knew he found something special, and we were able to identify the fossils and their paleontological importance. In recognition of his efforts, the new bird species is now named Flexomornis howei, after Mr. Howe."

The new shoreline-inhabiting species bridges a gap in time and space between older enantiornithine birds found in Europe and Asia, and younger species from North and South America. Scientists had suspected these kinds of birds should have been in North America at the time, but direct evidence of their presence had been lacking until now.

"This is where real science happens. We do original research here, and make discoveries that do not happen anywhere else," said Dr. Tykoski. "We believe with additional research, we could find more and even older bird fossils in this area."  

About the Museum of Nature & Science

The Museum of Nature & Science – the result of a unique merger in 2006 between the Dallas Museum of Natural History, The Science Place and the Dallas Children's Museum – is a non-profit educational organization located in Dallas's Fair Park. In support of its mission to inspire minds through nature and science, the museum delivers exciting, engaging and innovative visitor experiences through its education, exhibition, and research and collections programming for children, students, teachers, families and life-long learners. The facility also includes the TI Founders IMAX® Theater and a cutting-edge digital planetarium. The Museum of Nature & Science is supported in part by funds from the City of Dallas Office of Cultural Affairs, the Texas Commission on the Arts and HP. The Museum of Nature & Science also is building a new $185-million museum on a 4.7-acre site in Victory Park to complement the Fair Park facilities.  To learn more about the Museum of Nature & Science, please visit natureandscience.org.

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Dr. Anthony Fiorillo

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SOURCE Museum of Nature & Science



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