Gobipteryx sp. eggs
Sauriurae: Enantiornithes: Alexornithidae
Locality: Khermeen Tsav, Gobi Desert, southern Mongolia
Age: Late Cretaceous (Campanian), 75 million years ago
Gobiopteryx is one of the most ancient of birds. It is known from two crushed skulls and
lower jaws from Mongolia.
When Gobipteryx lived, birds were just beginning to develop into the groups
we know today. The oldest vertebrate that has been called a bird is the first
vertebrate with feathers, Archaeopteryx, from the Late Jurassic of Germany.
During the end of the Age of Dinosaurs, primitive birds experimented with many
different forms and niches, and it wasn't until the early stages of the Cenozoic, the Age of
Mammals (beginning at 65 million years ago), that the broad outlines of modern
groupings of birds could be seen.
Gobipteryx still has many reptilian characteristics.
One example, one of the bones of the jaw,
the quadrate, resembles bones in theropod dinosaurs.
But Gobiopteryx also had bird-like features too.
Many paleontologists view Gobipteryx and a number of other Cretaceous
birds as early experiments in bird-like features that didn't give rise to any later birds.
These experimented with the avian form until crowded out by better competitors.
These better competitors gave rise to our modern birds.
Gobipteryx would have had feathers and probably would have been able to fly.