A new species of prehistoric bird, which would have lived around 90 million years ago, has been found in the Canadian Arctic. According to boffins, the discovery, some of the oldest bird bones ever found, reveal that parts of the Arctic were once as warm as Florida.
The new discovery would have been an ancestor of modern seabirds – albeit with teeth. It adds to a growing body of evidence which points to global warming during the late Cretaceous period, when T-Rex would still have been around.
The leader of the expedition, Professor John Tarduno, from the University of Rochester in New York, described the bird as a cross between a seagull and a cormorant. However, it is thought that the bird would have had teeth to catch big fish.
Researchers have named the bird Tingmiatornis arctica. The find helps to show what sort of ecosystem would have been in place some 90 to 94 million years ago.
The fossils were found above lava fields, formed by a number of volcanic eruptions. Scientists think these volcanoes would have been pumping our gases, causing a greenhouse effect which caused global warming.
Scientists believe that if they can build up comprehensive picture of climate change in past years, they can better predict what will happen in the present day.
While the previous understanding of the climate in this Arctic region was that it was warmer, but would still have had seasonal ice, this research suggests that was not the case as the bird could not have survived icy conditions. Other animals which would have been in the same area at the time were turtles, big freshwater fish and chamsosaurs, which are now extinct, but which were a bit like crocodiles. The animal life then would be very different from the icy wastelands of modern times.