A new bird-like dinosaur sheds light on the origins of early birds

A new bird-like dinosaur sheds light on the origins of early birds

A new bird-like dinosaur with strange legs provides more knowledge about the ancestors of modern birds.

Scientists have been in agreement for some time that birds descended from dinosaurs. But how this transition from dinosaurs to birds occurred is still a big mystery. Few fossils have been preserved from the early days of birds. And Chinese researchers have now found one. They describe their findings in the scientific journal nature.

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Fossil rarity

The history of birds begins in the late Jurassic period, about 150 million years ago. Then there were a number of dinosaurs that developed bird-like features, for example, they walked on two legs, had feathers, and had a bird. beak. Some of these dinosaurs eventually evolved into modern birds.

However, fossils illustrating the initial stage of this transformation are scarce. Perhaps because the environmental conditions in the Jurassic period were unfavorable to the fossilization process and there were simply few bird-like dinosaurs living at that time.

This is why the Chinese researchers’ discovery is so special. They have found deposits from the Jurassic period in China that have many fossils preserved, including a bird-like dinosaur they discovered. Fujianvenator is a miracle And I mentioned. Fujianventure It was about the size of a pheasant and weighed 641 grams.

artistic impression Fujianvenator is a miracleCountry: Zhao Zhuang.

strange bird

A number of things stood out about the skeleton of a carnivorous dinosaur. For example, its lower legs were twice as long as its upper legs, a trait never found in its close relatives (some modern birds). According to paleontologists, those legs indicate that the dinosaur was a fast runner or that it waded in shallow waters.

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It is also remarkable Fujianventure “He had a fossilized bone bone,” says Denis Voyten, a paleontologist at Natuurmuseum Fryslân, who was not involved in the study. Modern birds also have a prominent sternum and use it as an appendage to their flight muscles, however Fujianventure I couldn’t fly at all.”

And perhaps most amazing: Archeopteryx, One of the few other bird-like dinosaurs from the Jurassic period whose fossils have been found did not have a fossilized bone bone, although it could fly. Voeten: “This is an interesting starting point for further research. Although more insight into this only says something about this species at first, it may also shed light on the ecological context in which early bird-like dinosaurs evolved.

Lars van den Hoek Ostend, a Naturalis paleontologist not associated with the research, is excited about the find. For a long time, science assumed that all ‘birds’ at the time looked about the same. But this is not true. There will always be animals that look for a niche, require certain adjustments and therefore look different. Long legs Fujianventure Show it well.”

sources: nature, Chinese Academy of Sciences headquarters via EurekAlert!

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