Giant goose had crocodile beak, according to reports in Fossil Science and Times Online 27 September 2008. A large bird skull found in clay on the Isle of Sheppey, UK has been identified as belonging to an extinct giant bird namedDasornis emuinus – a goose-like bird with a wing span of up to 5 m (16 ft) across believed to have cruised the skies over Britain 50 million years ago. Gerald Mayr, who identified the skull, commented that a bird that size would need strong winds to take off. As well as its size, the bird was also different from living birds in having bony teeth. Mayr commented: “By today’s standards these were pretty bizarre animals, but perhaps the strangest thing about them is that they had sharp, tooth-like projections along the cutting edges of the beak. The beak was so covered in bony teeth that it looked like a crocodile.” He went on to say, “No living birds have true teeth – which are made of enamel and dentine – because their distant ancestors did away with them more than 100 million years ago, probably to save weight and make flying easier. But the bony-toothed birds, like Dasornis, are unique among birds in that they reinvented tooth-like structures by evolving these bony spikes. It’s linked to diet. These birds probably skimmed across the surface of the sea, snapping up fish and squid on the wing. With only an ordinary beak these would have been difficult to keep hold of, and the pseudo-teeth evolved to prevent meals slipping away.”

Fossil Science

Editorial Comment: To say that birds did away with teeth and then reinvented them is another evolutionary “just so” story that bestows the attributes of a purposeful designer onto a mindless chance process. If a toothless bird tried to catch fish by skimming across the sea surface, that would not make teeth grow. A bird that did not have teeth can only gain them when meaningful genetic information is added. Furthermore, the size of this bird and the fact that it is extinct is a reminder that the general trend in the real world is creatures get smaller and die out – the opposite of evolution. (Ref. ornithology, diet, flight)

Evidence News 29 October 2008

Follow Up

UK bird author Phillip Snow comments: “There are ‘still’ many birds without teeth that take fish from water, e.g. penguins, divers, grebes, albatrosses, petrels, gannets etc, pelicans, cormorants etc, herons etc, some wildfowl (including some diving ducks with teeth-like serrations), fish eagles, ospreys and other raptors (hooked bills), some rails, cranes, greenshank and some other waders, skuas (though usually pirates), most auks, terns, gulls, kingfishers, some owls, some crows and even some small ‘passerines’ like Eurasian Robins will take little fish. Very roughly speaking that’s approx 50% of all birds that have survived as fish eaters despite supposedly losing their teeth!

Evidence News 12 December 2008