Science

Huge flightless swan roamed the ancient seas with a cradle on its back

A fossilised leg bone found in Japan belonged to a prehistoric swan species with adaptations similar to several other water birds, including a duck-like bill and the feet of a loon



Life



2 May 2022

Artist’s reconstruction of the ancient Annakacygna swan

Gunma Museum of Natural History

A newly described bird from prehistoric Japan was an odd duck, so to speak. The enormous swan lived in the sea, sporting stubby wings that it possibly used to create a cradle on its back for offspring.

Hiroshige Matsuoka at Kyoto University and Yoshikazu Hasegawa at the Gunma Museum of Natural History in Japan analysed a fossilised skeleton that was excavated in 2000 in the Usui river in central Japan. The riverbed’s marine deposits date back to the Miocene epoch more than 11 …

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