It reads like a cross between a Hitchcock movie and a Lovecraft story — paleontologists have unearthed a fanged bird fossil from the Cretaceous Era. Despite the cartoonish images this news flashes into my head, the startling find also suggests that this turkey-sized predator was also venomous. The first known ancestor to the avian family that used poison to immobilize its victims. A venomous bird.
Martin Luther is rumored to have said that you can’t prevent birds from flying over your head, (but you can prevent them from nesting in your hair). This new discovery suggests that there might be poisonous birds hovering around out there. And of course, Creationists must make room on the ark for this extraordinary creature. Since all critters, according to Genesis, were on the ark, our Sinornithosaurus must have lurked in some dark corner. I wonder how old Noah classified them — were they nestled among the birds or were they roaming about in the dinosaur wing? These toothy pterosaur wannabes were closely related to the velociraptors and microraptors that once served as the tetrapod mosquitoes of the Cretaceous Park world, stealth biters who’d glide down upon you undetected. The Creationists railing against transitional forms are scratching their theologically inclined heads.
I welcome the discovery like an early holiday gift. Although no one will ever see a living poisonous reptilian turkey soaring down from a Cretaceous canopy, we can all wonder and imagine. Fangs bared, venom dripping, it drops into our comfortable world and makes us reconsider. Apparently poisonous birds did not make the evolutionary cut, but I, for one, will be keeping a closer eye on the sky when I’m out in the woods or jogging around town early in the morning.