As paleoecologist Jacquelyn Gill was doing her fieldwork at the Siberian permafrost caves, one of the oddest things happened. A fossil hunter offered her what it seemed at first, a freshly dead bird. Gill didn’t consider it to be that significant until she performed a series of tests. The bird turned out to be an ancient specimen from the late Pleistocene age.
As Gill and her team dubbed it, “an ice age traveler,” the odd bird fossil resembles a lot of some species found nowadays. The shock was obvious, so the team needed a more detailed analysis. Recently, the bird description was published, and it states that the creature is a female horned lark of 46,000 years old.
The specimen is still well-known over the Northern Hemisphere nowadays. Scientists examined the bird at the Center for Paleogenetics in Stockholm, where they performed a carbon-dating on the specimen, defining its age. The fact that the bird was so-well preserved caused a lot of confusion.
Paleoecologists found a bird fossil of 46,000 years old
“We could even look at the contents of its stomach if we had the chance. It’s like entering a walk-in freezer and finding a thing that’s been stored for 45,000 years,” detailed Nicolas Dussex, the lead author of the study.
Finding out the identity of the bird can show us more about the environment of old Siberia. Currently, the horned larks are recognized for their interest in significant, open habitats – they usually choose emptied agricultural grounds, airports, or beaches. The specimen’s existence is also linked to the presence of other animals such as mammoths, bison, or horses.
Such a thing indicates that the area was filled by a mixture of steppe and tundra habitats back to ancient times. The continuous changes in the ecosystem brought the end of many species. The horned lark, however, seemed to survive the environment’s alteration.