Although headless, enough of this bird skeleton remains for scientists to classify it as an ancient relative of spoonbills and ibises—in fact, it's the oldest known example of its family yet discovered. Today there are six living species of spoonbills and about 30 species of ibises found in tropical and subtropical habitats worldwide.
Long-legged waders, these birds typically have either long and narrow curved bills (the ibises) or flat spatulate bills (the spoonbills). Ibises spend their days probing the mud for insects, worms, and other aquatic organisms to eat, while spoonbills sweep their partially opened bills back and forth in the water until they sense a small fish or other aquatic creature to snap up.
Specimen: Undescribed species, possibly from the family Threskiornithidae, FMNH PA718
Locality: Fossil Butte Member of Green River Formation
Credit: Photo courtesy L. Grande