Focus: Fossil Birds

Focus: Fossil Birds

Field Museum's Fossil Bird Collection is scientifically important but relatively small. Most birds have fragile, hollow-boned, generally small skeletons which are rare in the fossil record. Extinct birds with larger, more heavily built bones such as the "Terror Bird" above are more likely to fossilize. Our collection has a number of strengths including specimens from the Cenozoic of Argentina & Bolivia, fossil birds from the Eocene Green River Formation in Wyoming, Quaternary birds from Iraq, primitive birds from the Cretaceous of western North America, and from the Cretaceous of Madagascar, specimens from the Ice Age deposits of Rancho La Brea California, and moas from New Zealand.

    simpson's picture

    William Simpson

    Head of Geological Collections; Collections Manager, Fossil Vertebrates Gantz Family Collections Center

Focus: Fossil Birds Collections

A Charles Knight mural depicting an ice age scene with a herd of woolly mammoths and two woolly rhinoceros making their way across the frozen plain.

Photo Archives - Charles Knight Collection

In the early 1920s, among Knight's great admirers was Dr. George Kunz, the renowned gemologist for Tiffany. Visiting Knight's studio, Kunz was struck by the fact that The Field Museum did not own any of Knight's work. Dr. Kunz worked with Knight's daughter Lucy, to secure a contract to create his biggest commission yet: a series of 28 murals to enclose the Museum's new fossil hall. The murals show the development of life on earth, from its earliest origins through the ages of amphibians, reptiles and mammals. Knight and Lucy traveled to Chicago in 1926 to begin the project.