Odd Thoughts of a Wacky Avian

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    By Scott Reid

    Etymology: Fisherman

    First Described By: Harrison & Walker, 1976

    Classification: Dinosauromorpha, Dinosauriformes, Dracohors, Dinosauria, Saurischia, Eusaurischia, Theropoda, Neotheropoda, Averostra, Tetanurae, Orionides, Avetheropoda, Coelurosauria, Tyrannoraptora, Maniraptoromorpha, Maniraptoriformes, Maniraptora, Pennaraptora, Paraves, Eumaniraptora, Averaptora, Avialae, Euavialae, Avebrevicauda, Pygostaylia, Ornithothoraces, Euornithes, Ornithuromorpha, Ornithurae, Neornithes, Neognathae, Neoaves, Aequorlitornithes, Ardeae, Aequornithes, Suliformes, Phalacrocoracidae

    Status: Extinct

    Time and Place: Around 38 million years ago, in the Priabonian age of the Eocene of the Paleogene 

    Piscator is known from the Bracklesham Beds in Hampshire, England 

    Physical Description: Piscator is known from part of a jaw, which showcases that it was similar to modern Cormorants - a group of birds which dive for food in the ocean, where they are able to propel themselves with their feet enough to reach depths as much as 45 meters under water. They have short wings and, thus, have difficulty flying in an energy-efficient manner. However, given all we have of Piscator is a jaw, it’s uncertain how much Piscator resembled modern Cormorants - especially given how early it shows up in the fossil record. What we can tell from the jaw is that it was long and narrow, indicating it may have resembled in size and appearance the European Shag apart from having a more narrow bill.

    Diet: Presumably, Piscator ate fish like living Cormorants.

    Behavior: Without more fossil material of Piscator, it’s uncertain if it would have behaved like living cormorants; given how Limnofregalis is so different from living frigate birds, it’s probably unwise to make assumptions based on modern relatives. Still, it probably lived near the shore, and spent most of its time feeding on fish; it possibly also nested in roosts like its living relatives.

    Ecosystem: Piscator lived in the Bracklesham Beds, a later-Eocene environment of England that was a rocky shoreline ecosystem. Little is known about this ecosystem except that it was populated with other dinosaurs, such as the bird of prey Milvoides, the rails Patipons and Parvirallus, and the pheasant Percolinus. Piscator probably, thus, had to look out for Milvoides in terms of dangers to its safety.

    Other: Piscator is the earliest occurance of a cormorant-like thing in the fossil record; the next occurance of such an animal is in the Oligocene of Egypt.

    ~ By Meig Dickson

    Sources under the Cut 

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