A bird with spotted, ribbonlike tail feathers once flew around the ancient supercontinent of Gondwana, a new study finds. Until researchers uncovered the bird's 115-million-year-old fossilized remains in 2011, the scientific world had evidence of birds with ribbonlike tails living only in the Northern Hemisphere. Now, researchers have proof that these unique birds also lived in the Southern Hemisphere during this critical time of bird evolution. [Read the full story on the bird with ribbonlike tail feathers]
An illustration of the Cretaceous fossil of a bird that measured just 5.5 inches (14 centimeters) from head to tail. Researchers found the fossil in the Araripe Basin of Brazil. (Image credit: Deverson Pepi)
A drawing of the 115-million-year-old fossilized bird uncovered in northeastern Brazil. Researchers are waiting to give the bird a new genus and species, but said it fits into the Enantiornithes group, which encompasses a large diversity of birds that lived during the time of the dinosaurs. (Image credit: Gabriel Lio)
The 2011 finding is now the oldest known bird from Brazil. The fossil shows exceptional preservation of the bird's ribbonlike tail feathers. (Image credit: Ismar de Souza Carvalho)
A map showing where the researchers located the fossil. (Image credit: Ismar de Souza Carvalho)
Rock of ages
The 115-million-year-old Cretaceous rocks where the oldest complete bird from Gondwana was found. The ancient supercontinent Gondwana included Africa, Antarctica, Australia, India and South America. (Image credit: Ismar de Souza Carvalho)
An artist's interpretation of an Enantiornithes escaping the jaws of a toothy predator. (Image credit: Deverson Pepi)
People search for new fossil specimens in the Cretaceous rocks of the Araripe Basin, Brazil. The fossils date from 100 million to 120 million years old. (Image credit: Ismar de Souza Carvalho)
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Laura is the archaeology and Life's Little Mysteries editor at Live Science. She also reports on general science, including paleontology. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Scholastic, Popular Science and Spectrum, a site on autism research. She has won multiple awards from the Society of Professional Journalists and the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association for her reporting at a weekly newspaper near Seattle. Laura holds a bachelor's degree in English literature and psychology from Washington University in St. Louis and a master's degree in science writing from NYU.