Lecture: Bird watching in the fourth dimension: how the fossil record reveals the origin of flight, feathers, and birds themselves

Speaker: Dr. Daniel Field, University of Bath

Entry Fee

Members: Free

Visitors: £5.00

Date and Time

19:30 -


Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution, 16-18 Queen Square, Bath BA1 2HN

Lecture Description

Birds are the most diverse and widely distributed groups of tetrapod animals. They inhabit a myriad of different environments, and exhibit incredible disparity in their forms and lifestyles. Unravelling how, when, and why modern bird diversity has arisen demands an appeal to the fossil record of modern birds, as fossils provide us with the only direct evidence of the history of life on Earth. Additionally, understanding the origins of the features that make birds unique - such as feather-assisted flight - forces us to look beyond the fossil record of modern birds themselves. For these answers, we must turn to the Mesozoic record, more than 66 million years ago, to study the early antecedents of modern birds: non-avian dinosaurs.

I will discuss my research related to modern birds and their dinosaurian relatives, covering questions like “how did the ancestors of modern birds survive the end-Cretaceous mass extinction?”; “how have the geographic distributions of modern bird groups changed over the last 66 million years?”; and “how and when did modern avian flight arise?”.

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