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This ancient fowl bit like a dinosaur and pecked like a bird

New fossil leads to the most detailed 3-D reconstruction of Ichthyornis dispar’s skull

1:00pm, May 2, 2018
 Ichthyornis dispar skull and illustration

BIRD BEAK  Using fossils of an ancient toothed bird (illustrated at right), scientists made a 3-D reconstruction of the bird’s skull (left), revealing the animal had a small, pincerlike beak at the tip of its snout.

A bird that lived alongside dinosaurs may have preened its feathers like modern birds — despite a full mouth of teeth that also let it chomp like a dino.

A new 3-D reconstruction of the skull of Ichthyornis dispar, which lived during the Late Cretaceous epoch between 87 million and 82 million years ago, reveals that the ancient fowl had a small, primitive beak and a mobile upper jaw. That mobility allowed the bird to use its beak with precision to groom itself and grab objects, similar to how modern birds employ their beaks, researchers report in the May 3 Nature. But I. dispar also retained some features from its nonavian dinosaur ancestors, including strong jaw muscles in addition to the teeth.

I. dispar holds a special place because it was for the longest time one of the only known toothed birds,” says Lawrence Witmer, a vertebrate

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