Want to Know How the First Bird Beak Looked Like?

If you are fond of birds, you would be glad to know that finally it has been discovered as for how the first bird beak looked like.

While the fossils of the bird were discovered in 1870, the heads of this earliest sample were neither complete nor in proper shape until now. But with the latest study of Yale University which was published in the journal Nature, it has been found that the first bird beak belongs to an Ichthyornis dispar from about 85 million years ago.

recreated image of the Ichthyornis dispars skull

(A recreated image of the Ichthyornis dispar’s skull, representing the first bird beak)

From the images, it appears that beak was small, and was connected at the end of its jaw filled with teeth.

The chief investigator on the study, Bhart-Anjan Bhullar, said that “this animal existed “right in the middle of the transition from something that has more of a dinosaur head to something that has a head more like that of a modern bird.”Further, Bhullar added that “At its origin, the beak was a precision grasping mechanism that served as a surrogate hand as the hands transformed into wings.

In addition to above, the study’s lead author, Daniel Field said that “This extraordinary new specimen reveals similar brain proportions to that of a modern bird, but other parts of the skull more closely resemble the skulls of predatory dinosaurs.”

How was the fossil found?

In 2014, Kristopher Super, the co-author of the study was searching for fossils in western Kansas when he tripped upon a rock. After looking the rock closely, Super noticed out that there were numerous bones sticking out of it. After determining that the bones belong to ancient relatives of birds, he and his colleagues called Bhullar.

After that, the fossil was placed in a CT scanner from which the team was able to discover the 85 million-years-old Ichthyornis dispar skull inside the rock.

While the real bones are kept as it is in the rock, the co-lead authors, Daniel Field and Michael Hanson digitally extracted the bones. After combining the latest findings with the previously found specimens, the team was able to create a 3-dimensional skull, representing the first bird beak. The Ichthyornis dispar is considered to possess modern bird qualities like a big brain and beak and dinosaur qualities like strong jaw muscles, and a dinosaur like temporal region.

Well, it will be interesting to see how these latest findings help in exploring the history and biology of birds in future.

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