Pelicans: Traces of the Past Yr 4 Number 5: Thursday’s Special


© irene waters 2018

The only direct descendant of the dinosaur to survive extinction were those that could fly. Birds evolved from the dinosaur group  Theropods and are now thought to be the only living dinosaur descendants. When you eat a chicken you are eating a modern day dinosaur.


© irene waters 2018

It is easier to imagine this trace of the past when you look at pelicans. They have a prehistoric look about them for good reason. The first pelican is believed to have appeared 100 million years ago reaching the peak of their diversity 65 – 57 million years ago when their were around 57 species. Today there are only 5 – 8 species left. 30 million years ago the giant pelican existed. What a sight that would have been. The largest now is 1.8 metres long with a wingspan of 3 metres. They are light because their bones are full of air and this prevents them from diving to catch fish. The only one that dives is the American brown pelican which launches itself from a height of 20 metres and hits the water at a speed of 65 kpm.


© irene waters 2018

The pelican beak which is the longest of any living bird,  is well known for its sac which it uses for fishing allowing it to scoop up its food, get rid of the water before swallowing its meal. A well-preserved 30 million year old fossil pelican found in the Luberon region of France shows the pelican has changed little in that time.


© irene waters 2018

This lack of change is put down to the fact that the beak has reached an evolutionary point that is optimum for either flight or eating or both and as it is a successful trait it has survived over time.  Pelicans are truly a trace of the past.

In response to Paula’s Thursday Special.

About Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

I began my working career as a reluctant potato peeler whilst waiting to commence my training as a student nurse. On completion I worked mainly in intensive care/coronary care; finishing my hospital career as clinical nurse educator in intensive care. A life changing period as a resort owner/manager on the island of Tanna in Vanuatu was followed by recovery time as a farmer at Bucca Wauka. Having discovered I was no farmer and vowing never again to own an animal bigger than myself I took on the Barrington General Store. Here we also ran a five star restaurant. Working the shop of a day 7am - 6pm followed by the restaurant until late was surprisingly more stressful than Tanna. On the sale we decided to retire and renovate our house with the help of a builder friend. Now believing we knew everything about building we set to constructing our own house. Just finished a coal mine decided to set up in our backyard. Definitely time to retire we moved to Queensland. I had been writing a manuscript for some time. In the desire to complete this I enrolled in a post grad certificate in creative Industries which I completed 2013. I followed this by doing a Master of Arts by research graduating in 2017. Now I live to write and write to live.
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14 Responses to Pelicans: Traces of the Past Yr 4 Number 5: Thursday’s Special

  1. Thank you for really interesting history and wonderful photos to accompany. It’s chicken for dinner tonight and I may look at it a bit long before my first bite.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Excellent photos. I have turkey in the salad and my husband cooked chicken. One is filet and the other is small cutes. No feathers to help with the imagination, but dinosaurs didn’t have feathers.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Charli Mills says:

    Eating chicken will not be quite the same! The feathery dinos in the top picture seem strange to me having grown up during a time when we imagined them to be lizards.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Paula says:

    I’m not a big eater of the modern day dinosaurs. These are fascinating facts, Irene. Thank you so much for this bright entry! So very clever 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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