Letter to the Editor

Birds, fossils and penguins

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Dear Editor,

Growing up in Colorado and living in Nebraska for 45 years, I’ve had the opportunity to watch many kinds of birds.

“Survivors fo the Skies” on pp. 88-97 of the May 2018 National Geographic magazine by Victoria Jaggard is truly a fascinating story about the evolution of birds.

She states that evolution of birds from the time of the dinosaurs is a fascinating scientific fact.

It took tens of millions of years to produce a small dinosaur that could fly with flapping wings, according to Stephen Brussate, a paleontologist at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland.

Scientists think that the disappearing forests had a great influence on the development of some birds and the extinction of others.

Bird fossils have been discovered in Fossil Lake in Wyoming. They include early parrots and flightless wading birds. In 2016, a complete skeleton of a vegavis was found by Daniel Field. It resembled a modern-day duck. It had a vocal organ like modern-day waterfowl.

The June 2018 Travel News (pp. 6-12), which is an international publication in Sacramento, Calif., features a story about penguins.

Chinstrap penguins were observed by tourists. They are much more birdlike than the emperor penguins. They build nests on Half Moon Island in the South Shetlands. Their nests are pebbles up on the high rocks. They squawk and flight and generally make a mess.

A trip to the Weddel Sea in Antarctica gives visitors a chance to observe emperor penguins. Their colony includes thousands of babies and no nests. They wander all over crying for food. When they found an adult penguin, they were usually ignored. Their environment is the harshest place on earth.

These creatures are neither a seal or a fish. Their awkward bodies are supported by claws. They have wings that are clubs of muscle. Humans observing them are surprised by the fact that adult birds come right up to them.

Travel companies remind visitors that penguins are a protected bird.

Helen Ruth Arnold,

Trenton, Neb.

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