Samrukia: Kazakh Myth Gives Name to Dynosaur-Era Bird Found Near AralMore than 80 millions years ago a huge ostrich-looking bird lived on the territories that are now part of Kazakhstan. The bones thought to belong to Samrukia Nessovi (Kazakh phoenix) suggest that giant birds coexisted with “non-bird dinosaurs” of the Cretaceous period, an article in Royal Society’s journal Biology Letters in the UK suggests. The remains were discovered back in 1970s in Central Kazakhstan and the suggested name refers to Samruk, the Phoenix-like bird from Kazakh myths.
Darren Naish, a palaeontologist and science writer from Portsmouth University (UK), and his colleagues found the bird,
by analysing the fossils considered to belong to Oviraptosaur (feathered dinosaur). Everything that left from the bird is two
bones of the lower jaw, the size of which point to a bird that stood two to three metres tall, making it the largest bird known from the Late Cretaceous. Many primitive birds alive at the time were closer in size to chickens. …
“Now, we can be sure that not all of the terrestrial birds from Mesozoic period were the size of crow. They are certainly have evolved to giant sizes, at least in two regions of the world,” Dr. Naish said.
The new data on Samrukia revealed that the modern birds are not so different to extinct Mesozoic ones. Thus, modern diversity can serve as an indicator to the variety that used to live millions of years ago.
It should be also noted that the fossils of the bird were found in 1970s during a joint Soviet and German expedition. The expedition worked at the Shakh-Shakh location, which is 600 kilometres to the east coast of the Aral Sea. The fossil was reconstructed using plaster, glue and paint, to make it look like a complete jaw, passed through the hands of a German collector, and later went on display in a Belgian museum.
In addition, the bird earned its forename from Samruk, the mythological Kazakh phoenix.
According to the legend, every year sacred bird Samruk lays the golden egg – the Sun – on the Baiterek’s (Tree of Life) crown. The tree by itself symbolises cosmogonic ideas of nomads, where the roots of the tree situated in the underworld, its trunk on the earth and the crown in the sky. The Aidahar (Dragon), who lives at the roots of the Tree, eats the egg. This repeats infinitely and, thus, symbolises the shift of the winter and summer, day and night, and the struggle between good and evil. The Tree of Life and the Golden Egg on top of it became a symbol of Kazakhstan’s young capital Astana.
The latter part of its name honours to Lev Nessov, a Russian palaeontologist famous for his long distance trips in hunt for fossils.