Ichthyornis

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Ichthyornis
Temporal range: Upper Cretaceous
Ichthyornis Clean.png
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Subclass: Ichthyornithes
Genus: Ichthyornis
Binomial name
Ichthyornis dispar
Marsh, 1872
Skeletal restoration by O.C. Marsh

Ichthyornis (meaning "fish bird") was a tern-like bird which lived 93-83.5 million years ago in the Upper Cretaceous. It lived in flocks, nested on shorelines, and hunted for fish in the Western Interior Seaway, a huge inland sea in what is now North America.

Description[change | change source]

Ichthyornis was about 8 inches (20 cm) long. It had a large head, toothed jaws, and a long beak. This powerful flyer is the oldest-known bird that had a keeled breastbone (sternum) similar to that of modern birds.

Ichthyornis was originally found in 1872 in Kansas by Benjamin Franklin Mudge, a professor from Kansas State Agricultural College. Othniel C. Marsh of Yale University described and named the first fossils. Fossils of the bird have been found in Kansas, Texas and Alberta.