Evolution of early birds produced some odd species. It can be hard to imagine the real, three dimensional bird from the often flattened and compressed fossils, but in an interview at the Wired Science blog, Luis Chiappe describes what some early birds might have looked like to time-traveling birders and shows photos of the fossil specimens.

I’m not a big fan of Wired Science’s slideshows–mostly I don’t like to click to move ahead to each picture and description. But in this slideshow in particular, I think they should have also shown reconstructions of the bird taxa to better accompany Chiappe’s descriptions. I found a number of free-use images online of early bird reconstructions. Some of these may not be accurate reconstructions, but they seem to fit the fossils illustrated on the blog post linked above.

Shenzhouraptor (AKA Jeholornis), pencil drawing by Wikipedia user ArthurWeasley based on skeletal by Scott Hartmann. Used under CC BY-SA 3.0.

Sapeornis chaoyangensis by Peter Gryz, found at

Restoration of Confuciusornis sanctus. Illustration by Wikipedia user Matt Martyniuk. Used under CC BY-SA 3.0.

Restoration of Changchengornis. Illustration by Wikipedia user Conty. The illustration is based on images found here: [1] and [2]Used under CC BY 3.0.

Longipteryx chaoyangensis, pencil drawing, digital coloring by Nobu Tamura. Used under CC BY 3.0.

Rapaxavis pani by Peter Gryz, found at

Hongshanornis longicresta by unknown artist found at

Eoenantiornis redrawn by Peter Gryz from Picture Book of Chinese Fossil Birds by Hou (2000), found at

A few more taxa not included in the blog post:

Iberomesornis reconstruction at the Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales in Madrid. Photo by José-Manuel Benito Álvarez who placed it in the public domain.

Eoconfuciusornis zhengi digital reconstruction by Nobu Tamura. Used under CC BY 3.0.

Epidexipteryx hui digital reconstruction by Nobu Tamura. Used under CC BY 3.0.

Shanweiniao cooperorum digital reconstruction by Nobu Tamura. Used under CC BY 3.0.

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2 Responses to Paleobirding

  1. Peggy says:

    Matt: These are really interesting pictures. The tail feathers on the
    Confuciusornis sanctus remind me of a tropicbird. Iberomesornis is pretty fierce-looking with those teeth!


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