A north Texas fossil enthusiast has found the remains of a new species of bird that is the oldest definitive bird fossil known from North America. At approximately 96 million years old, the find occupies a gap between the older species found in Europe and Asia, and younger species found in the Americas.
Collector, Kris Howe, was searching an area of exposed rock near Grapevine Lake, northwest of Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, when he located the find. Realizing that it was “something special”, he took it to the Museum of Nature & Science in nearby Dallas, where scientists realized it was a new species.
Dr. Tony Fiorillo and Dr. Ron Tykoski, two paleontologists from the Museum, worked on the specimen, publishing their findings in the current issue of the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology. “This is the culmination of a dream for any fossil enthusiast,” said Dr. Fiorillo, head paleontologist and Curator at the Museum, in a press release.
The bird, an enantiornithine species named Flexomornis howei, in honor of Howe, dates from the lower Middle Cenomania stage of the Cretaceous period, that occupied shore-lines along the western side of a large inland sea that occupied what is now the U.S. central plains states.