Fossil Discovered That Hints At Common Ancestor Between Hummingbirds And Swifts

Fossils of strange species are found more often than most of us would probably guess. However, it’s not quite as often that a fossilized bird is found that has identified a line of birds similar to the quick flying hummingbirds and swallows of today that would have stemmed from a common ancestor. Recently, a fossil was found in southwestern Wyoming that proves there was once a separate line of small birds zipping around the earth.

The species, Eocypselus rowei, was found in a dry lake bed at the Green River Formation. There are tons of other fossils that have been found in the area, and this particular fossil was found hanging out under some rocks. The fossil depicts the tiny-winged bird with all of its feathers intact—a rare find in fossils. Like swifts, the Eocypselus rowei had beaks that enabled them to eat insects (hummingbirds prefer the nectar from flowers).

The fossilized species is a little different from the hummingbirds and swifts we know today. According to Inside Science, the wings of the Eocypselus rowei were different than those of hummingbirds and swifts. Instead of long wings (swifts) or short wings (hummingbirds), the fossilized sample showed a variation between the two, meaning unlike the birds of the present it did not hover. The Eocypselus rowei was closely related to the birds of today, but it not a common ancestor. Scientists believe that all of the birds we are speaking about had a common ancestor. The Eocypselus rowei thrived for a long time, branching out and eventually making it to Europe or perhaps, with new evidence we’ll find later, even farther.

Evidence states that the very tiny bird was likely 4 ½ inches long and was probably black, though whether or not it was visually appealing is less a matter of fact and more a matter of taste. Here’s to hoping additional research yields more findings, at least provided those findings are turned over to the proper authorities.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock/ Evgeniya Uvarova

Jessica Rawden
Managing Editor

Reality TV fan with a pinch of Disney fairy dust thrown in. Theme park junkie. If you’ve created a rom-com I’ve probably watched it.