Paleontologists have discovered a diurnal species of owls that lived 6 million years ago

(ORDO NEWS) — Paleontologists have discovered a well-preserved fossilized skeleton of an owl that lived 6 million years ago. An article about this was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The studied fossil belongs to the Miocene era, it was discovered in the vicinity of the city of Linxia in the Chinese province of Gansu, on the edge of the Tibetan Plateau.

The skeleton is preserved almost entirely, from the skull to the tail, including the wings and legs. Scientists especially note that even those parts that are usually not found are preserved, for example, the hyoid bone, trachea, patella, tendons of the muscles of the wings and legs, and even food remains.

Li Zhiheng from the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and colleagues found that the discovered owl belongs to a previously unknown species that led a diurnal lifestyle. It was named Miosurnia diurna.

The fact of a daytime lifestyle was established by the structure of the eye socket. Nocturnal animals require large pupils and large eyes, and this owl’s eye socket was relatively small and more like that of a diurnal animal.

The find should help scientists determine how and when owls evolved adaptations for a nocturnal lifestyle.

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