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Bird fossil collection bequeathed to Scottish museum

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A set of greater than 700 bird fossils dating back from 54 to 56 million years ago has been donated to National Museum Scotland.

It’s believed the items include many species recent to science, one being a falcon-like bird and one other a diver or loon.

The gathering, hailed as being one of the crucial essential on this planet by experts, is from the start of the Eocene period and represents the early stages within the evolution of contemporary birds.

A notable characteristic of this era is that the worldwide climate was several degrees warmer than it’s today, meaning that the specimens may give scientists useful details about climate changes.

Palaeontologists have said there isn’t any other collection prefer it within the UK.

The rare specimens were collected over the many years by amateur palaeontology enthusiast Michael Daniels, who died last yr aged 90.

He had assembled the several hundred skeletons and part skeletons that he had discovered in nodules of the London Clay, which had eroded out of the cliffs at Walton-on-the-Naze in Essex.

Experts have said the items are unusual when it comes to bird fossils in that they’re preserved in 3D.

Bird bones are light and fragile and so their stays are more commonly flattened prior to fossilisation.

Mr Daniels’ daughter lived in Edinburgh, and it was on a family visit to the National Museum of Scotland greater than 25 years ago that he shared news of his collection with the museum’s principal curator of vertebrates, Dr Andrew Kitchener.

Speaking concerning the fossils, Dr Kitchener said: “I used to be astonished on the amazing number of specimens of all sizes and styles.

“Lots of the bones were minuscule, requiring great patience and skill to extract.

“The undeniable fact that the gathering is now with us here at National Museums Scotland might be of interest to palaeontologists internationally.”

Work is under method to fully document the impressive findings.

Experts consider the gathering could yield no less than 50 recent species once research is accomplished.

Avian palaeontologist Dr Gerald Mayr of the Senckenberg Research Institute, Frankfurt am Essential, visited Mr Daniels persistently to view the fossils he had gathered over his lifetime.

“The importance of Michael Daniels’ collection can’t be overstated,” said Dr Mays, who has already published two papers describing recent species in collection.

“There may be nothing prefer it within the UK, definitely, and it’s comparable to other bird-rich sites within the US, China and Germany.

“The undeniable fact that so many specimens are preserved in three dimensions makes this one of the crucial essential collections of its type on this planet.”

The gathering is now undergoing conservation and preservation work on the National Museums Collection Centre in Edinburgh, where it’s going to be kept and made accessible to researchers.

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