Fun Yanornis Facts For Kids

Akinwalere Olaleye
Nov 18, 2022 By Akinwalere Olaleye
Originally Published on Oct 04, 2021
Edited by Luca Demetriou
Read these fascinating Yarnonis facts for kids that you are sure to love
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Age: 3-18
Read time: 6.8 Min

The Yanornis is an extinct Early Cretaceous bird. Both specimens of species were excavated from the Liaoning Province of China.

The Yanornis martini fossil remains were found in the Jiufotang formation, and the fossils were about 120 million years old, while the Yanornis guozhangi fossil remains were excavated from the Yixian formation, which was 124 million years old.

It is unclear what age the Jiufotang Formation was in, but it is mostly estimated to be of an early Aptian origin, which was 120-125 million years ago.

The name Yanornis is derived from the Ancient Chinese Yan dynasties, whose capital was Chaoyang. The specific name martini was kept on Avian paleontologist Larry Martin.

In a study based on early bird relationships conducted in 2006, it was found that Yanornis, Yixianornis, Songlingornis all formed a monophyletic group; that is, they belonged to the same clade. Yanorthiformes is an order of ornithuromorph birds from the Early cretaceous period, and the Yanornis belong to this order.

This order was created in order to differentiate these specimens from early Ornithurae like the Gansus.

Scroll down to read about the Yanornis martini and Yanornis guozhangi's life, what they fed on, their habits, and other exciting details! If you want to discover more like the Yanornis, take a look at these Xiaotingia and Leptorhynchos facts.

Yanornis Interesting Facts

How do you pronounce 'Yanornis'?

The name of these specimens can be pronounced as Yan-or-nis.

What type of dinosaur was a Yanornis?

This dinosaur-bird was a fish-eating extinct Early Cretaceous bird. They belong to the Yanorthiformes order. The two specimens excavated were named Yanornis martini, which was found in the Jiufotang formation, and the fossils were about 120 million years old, while the Yanornis guozhangi was excavated from the Yixian formation, which was 124 million years old.

In which geological period did the Yanornis roam the earth?

These birds belonged to the Early cretaceous period, which was about 145 million years ago.

When did the Yanornis become extinct?

Dinosaurs, in general, went extinct almost 65 million years ago, that is, at the end of the Cretaceous period, after living on the earth for about 165 million years. But this species existed in the Early cretaceous period, which was about 145 million years ago.

Where did a Yanornis live?

The Yanornis basal birds fed on fish and therefore chose areas like coastal regions and rocky regions so that they could hunt. They have also been stated to change diet according to the season and feed on seeds which means they also live near forest regions.

What was a Yanornis' habitat?

The Yanornis birds mostly habituated regions of China, and both specimens of species were excavated from the Liaoning Province of China.

Who did a Yanornis live with?

There is no information as of now on whether these Early Cretaceous birds stayed in groups or they stayed alone. But if assumed, small reptiles like this tend to stay in flocks in order to protect themselves from predators and also to hunt easily.

How long did a Yanornis live?

There is no information on the life span of these species, and after the evacuation of more specimen materials relevant to this are found, can this be speculated or proved.

How did they reproduce?

Reptiles mated with each other during the breeding season, and in the case of this breed, the female dinosaur laid eggs. The eggs hatch after a certain period of time, and newborns come out. The adult dinosaurs took care of the newborns till they could move with their parents or go along with their new family.

Yanornis Fun Facts

What did a Yanornis look like?

The Yanornis, according to natural history, would have been the size of a chicken or pigeon after evolution. They had a long skull with the upper jaw having about ten teeth and the lower jaw with 20 teeth. They had features that enabled them to both walk and fly as they had a well-developed U-shaped wishbone.

The fossil remains found to show that the specimen lacked the prefrontal bone; this bone isolates the frontal bone located above the eye from the lacrimal bone that is located in front of the eye.

Its shoulder bone and the extended bone that formed the wing blade had evolved the shape and features as in modern birds, enabling these species to lift its wings above its back for an upstroke.

They had beak-like features that enabled them to catch fish and feed on them. They had large numbers of small gastroliths, which are usually associated with species that need to grind tough plant material, such as seeds, after swallowing them. They had smaller teeth which helped them to grind the food.

Imprint of the fossils of the species

How many bones did a Yanornis have?

There isn't specific information provided for this features of this specimen but by the remains found, the features of the species like the wishbone, shoulder bone, and coracoid are the only found bones as of now.

How did they communicate?

There is no specific mention of how this specimen communicated as it is quite difficult to find, but they definitely didn't have modern means of communication. Like any other animal, dinosaurs also communicated by making sounds and using their body language. They might have included hoots and hollers to communicate as well.

How big was a Yanornis?

The Yanornis was about 12 in (30.5 cm) in length, which makes it about two times smaller than the Nicobar pigeon, which is 21-23 in (53.3-58.4 cm) in length.

How fast could a Yanornis move?

It was a better flyer than Enantiornithes as they had better muscles in their shoulder region, which enabled them to perform upstrokes.

How much did a Yanornis weigh?

Sadly, there is no weight that is stated by researchers for these birds as of yet. Only after proper fossils are found can they state the weight of this bird.

What were the male and female names of the species?

There is no specific name for the male or female dinosaurs of this species and are commonly known as Yanornis bird, Yanornis martini, or Yanornis guozhangi. Search for the rest of the fossils is still going on, and only after the complete discovery of the significant fossils can it be differentiated.

What would you call a baby Yanornis?

The newborn dinosaur was known as hatchling or nestling. This was common for most dinosaur species. There is no specific information for the names of newborns as of now.

What did they eat?

They fed on fish, and this was easy to find as most of the specimen had fish remains in their stomach and the crop region where food was kept prior to digestion. One of the specimens had preserved large amounts of supposed gastroliths, that are, stomach stones in the gizzard region.

Scientists have also said that they were able to switch diets during different seasons, but this speculation has been doubted now.

How aggressive were they?

Based on research, dinosaurs are divided into two groups where sauropods are herbivores and don't attack each other or other dinosaurs, while theropods were meat-eaters and attacked each other and the other dinosaurs as well. Even though they fed on fish, they were quite small and stayed in harmony with other species and their own.

Did you know...

The discovery of the Yanornis was from the Archaeoraptor scandal. It gained notoriety when the front half of a fossil bird was combined with the tail of a Microraptor, making a paleontological forgery named Archaeoraptor.

After the features were studied, the bird half was known as the Archaeoraptor repatriatus, and it was later found to be a junior synonym to the Yanornis.

Some studies state that the Archaeoraptor repatriatus specimen is a poorly preserved specimen of the Yanornis martini, or maybe it is a close relative to the Yanornis dinosaur.

Are Yanornis related to birds?

This species has several characteristics that are commonly found in modern birds. The absence of a bone that isolates the frontal bone located above the eye from the lacrimal bone that is located in front of the eye is one of the features that both species have in common.

It can be assumed that the Yanornis evolved to modern birds like the chicken.

What fossils of the Yanornis have been found?

The Yanornis martini was found in the Jiufotang formation, and the fossils were about 120 million years old, while the Yanornis guozhangi was excavated from the Yixian formation, which was 124 million years old. As of 2004, there are five specimens that have been evacuated but still haven't been assigned names.

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 Harpactognathus facts or Tupuxuara facts for kids.

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

Main image by Entelognathus.

Second image by Xiaoting Zheng et al.

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Written by Akinwalere Olaleye

Bachelor of Arts specializing in English Literature

Akinwalere Olaleye picture

Akinwalere OlaleyeBachelor of Arts specializing in English Literature

As a highly motivated, detail-oriented, and energetic individual, Olaleye's expertise lies in administrative and management operations. With extensive knowledge as an Editor and Communications Analyst, Olaleye excels in editing, writing, and media relations. Her commitment to upholding professional ethics and driving organizational growth sets her apart. She has a bachelor's degree in English Literature from the University of Benin, Edo State. 

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