Fun Confuciusornis Facts For Kids

Nidhi Sahai
Oct 20, 2022 By Nidhi Sahai
Originally Published on Sep 29, 2021
Edited by Jacob Fitzbright
Fact-checked by Kidadl Team
Check out these Confuciusornis facts!
Age: 3-18
Read time: 6.5 Min

Confuciusornis is a crow-sized primitive genus that used to live in the Early Cretaceous period. They belong to the phylum Chordata, clade Dinosauria, the family Confuciusornithidae, and genus Confuciusornis. They got found in the Jiufotang and Yixian formation of China around 125-120 million years ago. Just like modern birds don’t have teeth, Confuciusornisalso didn’t use to had teeth in its lifespan. Their beak was toothless but their close relative bird species like Hesperornis and Ichthyornis had teeth. Confuciusornis is one of the oldest known birds that had a beak. They belong to the early Cretaceous period. The famous Chinese moral philosopher Confucius (551-479 BC) was the one after whom the Confuciusornis was named. One of the most abundant vertebrates found in the Yixian Formation is Confuciusornis. There were many articulated specimens found of this bird. The fossils of Confuciusornis were discovered by Hou Lianhai and Hu Yoaming of the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology (IVPP) in Beijing in the year 1995. The length of Confuciusorniswas about 10 in (25.4 cm) from beak to pelvis. Their snout was triangular in shape and they didn’t have teeth. Modern birds and Confuciusornis have very similar features but also have many differences. The specimens are stored in an appropriate condition and they show the feathers of Confuciusornis are very much similar to the birds which are present today. But the forearm of the Confuciusornis was shorter than its upper arm bone, which is the humerus, and the hand. They had a feature of three free fingers on their hands just like the Archaeopteryx and other theropod dinosaurs. Archaeopteryx was a short-tailed species of bird.

For more such interesting, keep reading. Here are some more facts about other dinosaurs like the Diatryma and Hesperornis.

Confuciusornis Interesting Facts

Was the Confuciusornis a dinosaur?

No, the Confuciusornis was not a dinosaur. Rather it was a pterosaur with feathers that used to have a lot of common features with those of modern-day living birds, like having a toothless beak, long wings, and a short bony tail. They were the first of the birds known to have a beak.

How do you pronounce 'Confuciusornis'?

The pronunciation of this short little dinosaur-bird is 'kon-few-shus-or-niss'. The synonyms of this creature are ‬Confuciusornis suniae, Confuciusornis chuonzhous, and Jinzhouornis.

What type of prehistoric animal was a Confuciusornis?

Confuciusornis was in the category of small theropods and the type species was C. sanctus. They were named by Hou, Zhou z, Zhang f, Gu in the year 1995.

In which geological period did the Confuciusornis live?

Confuciusornis was a crow-like bird that used to live during the Late Jurassic and Early Cretaceous period which was roughly around 160-100 million years ago. They are a genus of extinct crow-sized birds.

When did the Confuciusornis become extinct?

According to the records on their lifespan, they are believed to have gone extinct 90-120 million years ago due to a huge mass extinction event in the Late Cretaceous period.

Where did a Confuciusornis live?

This primitive and long-tail bird used to live in the areas of East Asia and was probably endemic there. Many of its specimens have been found in Inner Mongolia (China), Hebei (China), and Sihetun Quarry, Liaoning Province, northeastern China.

What was a Confuciusornis habitat?

These dinosaur birds with feathers used to live both on land and near water bodies as well. They lived in lake deposits mixed with ashes from the volcanoes. They were piscivores and used to eat fish.

Who did a Confuciusornis live with?

There is no exact information available on that, little is known that just like the modern birds, these birds might have formed their flock with the same species of bird as it is easy to interact and live with. They were so small that they might not have had compatibility with other species.

How long did a Confuciusornis live?

It is not know how long their exact lifespan would have been.

How did they reproduce?

The fossils of Confuciusornis were discovered by Hou Lianhai and Hu Yoaming of the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology (IVPP) in Beijing in the year 1995. In 2007, Confuciusornis's egg specimen was found along with its fossil which shows that these extinct birds laid eggs just like the modern birds.

Confuciusornis Fun Facts

What did a Confuciusornis look like?

The specimens are stored in an appropriate condition and they show the feathers of Confuciusornis are very much similar to the birds which are present today.

Confuciusornis (c sanctus) was almost the same size as that a pigeon today and had a body of 19.6 in (50 cm), and also they had a wingspan of 27.55 in (70 cm). There is some confusion about the bodyweight of this species as it lies between 0.44-3.3 lb (0.2-1.5 kg). Their toothless beak was pointed and robust and they had a triangular-shaped skull. Their front jaws have neurovascular foramina and some grooves with a horn-covered beak. The tomial crest present on the upper jaw was straight. The flight feathers of Confuciusorniswere are very long and had a very modern appearance for a bird of the Cretaceous period. The primary flight wings were about 1.1 lb (0.5 kg) each. They were piscivores and used to eat fish. Their terminal vertebrae were fused in a way to form a structural appearance called a pygostyle. In many specimens, like the close species of Changchengornis, there can be seen thin and long flight feathers present on every side of the tail. It is believed that these feathers are sexually dimorphic elements and have been seen in males. These birds (c sanctus) had long tail feathers.

How many bones did a Confuciusornis have?

The bone count of the Confuciusornis skeleton is not known. They were similar to species of modern-day birds.

How did they communicate?

 The information on their communication ways is not clear after studying the fossils.

How big was a Confuciusornis?

The length of these long-tail birds Confuciusornis was nearly 19.6-21.65 in (50-55 cm).

How fast could a Confuciusornis fly?

Scientists don’t know how well they used to fly even after an efficient fossil study. Although the wings and flight feathers were capable of giving them a lift, there is a question of powered flapping flight with these flight feathers. By studying the fossils, it has been clear that the gliding was easy to establish and was used to change the habitats or get a rescue from the predator.

How much did a Confuciusornis weigh?

The weight of Confuciusornis (Confuciusornis sanctus) was around 0.44-3.3 lb (0.2-1.5 kg).

What were the male and female names of the species?

There are no specific names for the male and the female of this dinosaur birds species.

What would you call a baby Confuciusornis?

The baby of this dinosaur species does not have any particular name to be called by.

What did they eat?

The diet of Confuciusornis is still not known yet even after a good fossil study. There are questions about them being herbivorous, carnivorous, or piscivorous (fish eaters).

If they were herbivores, they used to eat seeds and small berries from plants. Grasses, shrubs, and twigs were also the main components of their diet.

They used to eat small reptiles and insects for their carnivorous diet.

How aggressive were they?

These birds were moderately aggressive by nature but there were not many signs where they have been seen as aggressive birds.

Did you know...

Confuciusornis shows the mixed features of basal birds. They used to be much more advanced than this Archaeopteryx as they had a short tail with a bony sternum but they were more basal and primitive than these modern birds today in terms of retaining the large claws on the area of forelimbs. They had a primitive skull with a closed eye socket. Their breastbone was relatively very small. Modern birds and Confuciusornishave very similar features but also have many differences.

Did Confuciusornis have teeth?

No, the Confuciusornis dinosaur had a toothless beak as has been interpreted by the specimen of this bird. The close species of Hesperornis and Ichthyornis had teeth.

Is the Confuciusornis an ancestor of the modern bird?

No, they were not the ancestors of the modern birds. Although the close species of Archaeopteryx were slightly considered as the close ancestor of modern birds according to the fossil study.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly dinosaur facts for everyone to discover! For more relatable content, check out these Scelidotheriumfacts and Sivatherium facts pages for kids.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable Confuciusornis coloring pages.

Main image by Velizar Simeonovski.

Confuciusornis Facts

What Did They Prey On?


what Type of Animal were they?


Average Litter Size?


What Did They Look Like?

Gray, red, brown

How Much Did They Weigh?

0.44-3.3 lb (0.2-1.5 kg)

Skin Type


How Long Were They?

19.6-21.65 in (50-55 cm)

How Tall Were They?










Scientific Name


What Were Their Main Threats?

Natural disasters

What Habitat Did They Live In?


Where Did They Live?

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Written by Nidhi Sahai

Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and Mass Communication

Nidhi Sahai picture

Nidhi SahaiBachelor of Arts in Journalism and Mass Communication

Dedicated and experienced, Nidhi is a professional content writer with a strong reputation for delivering high-quality work. She has contributed her expertise to esteemed organizations, including Network 18 Media and Investment Ltd. Driven by her insatiable curiosity and love for journalism and mass communication, Nidhi pursued a Bachelor of Arts degree from Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University, graduating with distinction in 2021. During her college years, she discovered her passion for Video Journalism, showcasing her skills as a videographer for her institution. Nidhi's commitment to making a positive impact extends beyond her professional pursuits. Actively engaging in volunteer work, she has contributed to various events and initiatives throughout her academic career.

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