Well-preserved remains of an Ice Age bird have been discovered by local fossil ivory hunters near the village of Belaya Gora in north-eastern Siberia.
The specimen has been identified as a horned lark (Eremophila alpestris). Its remains were passed on to a team or experts from the Swedish Museum of Natural History, Nicolas Dussex and Love Dalen. Radiocarbon dating revealed that the bird lived around 46,000 years ago.
The study on the bird has been published in the journal Communications Biology. In an interview with CNN, Dalen said that the bird may be an ancestor to two subspecies of lark: one in northern Russia and another on the Mongolian steppe.
“This finding implies that the climatic changes that took place at the end of the last Ice Age led to formation of new subspecies,” he said, noting that the next stage of research is to sequence the bird’s entire genome, which could reveal its relationship to the present subspecies.
“The fact that such a small and fragile specimen was near intact also suggests that dirt/mud must have been deposited gradually, or at least that the ground was relatively stable so that the bird’s carcass was preserved in a state very close to its time of death,” Dussex said.
He added that the findings will lead to new opportunities in studying about the evolution of ice age and understand its relation to climate change over the thousands of years ago.
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