Aussie birds with dinos ‘a cert mate!’ as oldest footprints found, according to report in ScienceDaily 28 October 2013. Anthony Martin, a palaeontologist at Emory University in Atlanta, and three Australian colleagues have found two fossil bird footprints in Cretaceous sandstone in Dinosaur Cove, Victoria, Australia. The only previous evidence of birds in Cretaceous rocks of Victoria is a fossilised furcula (wishbone). Anthony Martin is a specialist in trace fossils, and recognised a long drag mark associated with one of the prints as being made by a bird landing. He explained: “I immediately knew what it was – a flight landing track – because I’ve seen many similar tracks made by egrets and herons on the sandy beaches of Georgia”. According to Martin the footprint “has a beautiful skid mark from the back toe dragging in the sand, likely caused as the bird was flapping its wings and coming in for a soft landing”. The scientists estimate they were made by a bird the size of a great egret or a small heron. The rocks are dated 105 million years old, making them the oldest fossil bird prints found in Australia. According to Martin: “These tracks are evidence that we had sizeable flying birds living alongside other kinds of dinosaurs on these polar river floodplains about 105 million years ago”. Fossil landing tracks are rare and Martin claims they could add to our understanding of the evolution of flight.
Editorial Comment: Actually the prints of actual birds may tell you where they landed once and that they could already fly, but they will do nothing to help anyone understand the evolution of flight from non-flying creatures. Despite Martin’s politically correct reference to “other dinosaurs”, these footprints and the fossil furcula are proof that fully formed birds already existed when these rocks and fossils were laid down. If they were made by a heron or egret then they are evidence that herons or egrets have multiplied ‘after their kind’ ever since they landed in this place. Furthermore, as anyone who has observed footprints on sandy beaches knows, landing tracks from flying birds would be quickly obliterated unless they were buried immediately after they were made, and or the sandy material is already setting due to the natural cement in it. These footprints serve as another reminder that fossils are not formed slowly and gradually over millions of years. (Ref. aves, trace fossils, ornithology)
Evidence News, 30 October 2013