A new study from the University of Cape Town has shown that fossil relatives of ostriches and emus had a remarkable foraging ecology that was more like that of the Hadeda Ibis than their giant flightless living relatives. What is even more fascinating is that they may have inherited this unique ‘sixth sense’ from their non-avian dinosaur relatives.
The fossil birds we studied were the lithornithids, whose name means ‘stone birds’. These ancient birds co-existed with non-avian dinosaurs more than 65 million years ago and survived the end-Cretaceous mass extinction event that killed off all dinosaurs except for birds. The lithornithids are the earliest members of the paleognathous clade of birds, the group of birds that are sometimes also known as ratites. It includes ostriches, emus and the kiwis from New Zealand, as well as the gigantic, extinct Elephantbirds and moas. The lithornithids went extinct about 40 million years ago, but based on fossil material from North America and Europe, we know that they were roughly the size and shape of oystercatchers, were able to fly and lived in and around wetlands like modern wading birds (for example rails and ibises).
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Canon’s R6 and R5 camera bodies
FORCE of nature
During the past five or so years, Cape-based photographer Peter Chadwick has focused his conservation work on supporting counter-poaching efforts, developing conservation and re-introduction strategies for high-risk and endangered species and cultivating marine and terrestrial conservation teams. While doing this work throughout the African continent and the Western Indian Ocean, Peter has used his conservation photojournalism to raise awareness and garner support for the various causes he works on. A multiaward-winning cameraman, he is a Senior Fellow and Executive Member of the International League of Conservation Photographers.
Coral trees (Erythrina species) are found in tropical and subtropical areas around the world, including in southern Africa where nine species occur.
proudly SOUTH AFRICAN
Founded in February 2020, the South Africa Listers’ Club is a community of birders who have recorded 300 or more species within the borders of South Africa. As a protector of the country’s birds, BirdLife South Africa is enthusiastic about encouraging a #ProudlySouthAfrican approach to birding.
Accipiters and Cape Buzzards breeding on the Cape Peninsula
The Magic Beaks Of Stone Birds
Discovering an ancient avian superpower
Hidden Treasure Verreaux's Eagle-Owl
Despite being the largest owl species in the region and sporting characteristic bright pink eyelids, Verreaux’s Eagle-Owls Bubo lacteus can be surprisingly difficult to find in the wild. It was a colleague of mine, Callum Evans, who first pointed out an eagle-owl nest to me on 1 August 2020 in Mawana Game Reserve in northern KwaZulu-Natal. I had seen an adult and a sub-adult in the vicinity a few days before and had thought there might be a nest somewhere, but I hadn’t been able to locate it.
What's In A Name?
Introducing the Blue-billed Teal and Fynbos Buttonquail
The Place Of Wonder
Birding in iSimangaliso Wetland Park and St Lucia
Madagascar What's So Special?
A typical person knows nothing about Madagascar beyond an awareness of the animated movies of that name and a resulting conviction that the country gives refuge to penguins. Africans do slightly better.