Anthony Martin, a paleontologist at Emory University in Atlanta, Patricia Vickers-Rich and Michael Hall of Monash University in Victoria, and Thomas Rich of the Museum Victoria in Melbourne reported the discovery of the first evidence of true flying birds that date from the time of dinosaurs in the Oct. 28, 2013, edition of the journal Palaeontology.
Tracks of birds were found in the Dinosaur Cove in southern Victoria that date to 105 million years ago. The evidence indicates that true flying birds existed at the same time as dinosaurs during the Early Cretaceous.
The evidence is a bird’s landing tracks. The tracks have a backward pointing toe that is the same as modern birds. The marks of the tracks indicate the birds were landing when the marks were made. The researchers compared the ancient marks to the marks made by modern birds when they are landing. The distance between the marks and the dragging of the back toe indicate an animal that was flapping its wings and dragging its feet to land made the marks.
The birds were estimated to be the size of a small heron by the scientists.
Only one bird wishbone fossil that dates to the same time period was found at the site.
The discovery indicates that true birds lived with dinosaurs in Australia and is the first evidence of true birds from the Early Cretaceous in Australia.