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T. rex skull ZoomDinosaurs.com
Dinosaur
News
Feathered Dinosaurs Found in China
Strengthening the link between dinosaurs and birds
June 25, 1998

Paleontologists have discovered two new bird-like dinosaurs with rudimentary feathers and many other bird-like features. These finds reinforce the theory that birds evolved from dinosaurs. Although these new species had some form of primitive feather, these feathers were symmetrical in cross-section which made then useless for flight (asymmetry is neccessary to provide lift). The dinosaurs' arm-length was also insufficient for flight. The feathers were probably used as insulation, keeping in body heat.

These new dinosaurs Protarchaeopteryx robusta, and Caudipteryx zoui, together with the recently found Sinosauropteryx prima, have characteristics common to both theropod dinosaurs and to birds. All three, plus many specimen of a very primitive bird (Confuciusornis sanctus) were found in the period from 1996 to 1997 in an ancient lake bed in Liaoning Province, in northestern China.

One of the primary researchers, Philip J. Currie from the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology in Drumheller, Alberta, Canada said, "This is the most important discovery of the century. The credibility of the dinosaurs-to-birds theory has just taken a giant leap ahead with these specimens." Currie worked with an international team of scientists: Ji Qiang, director of the National Geological Museum of China; Mark Norell, chairman and associate curator, Department of Vertebrate Paleontology, American Museum of Natural History, New York; and Ji Shu-An, of the National Geological Museum of China.

In the chain of creatures leading from theropod (dromaeosaurid) dinosaurs to birds, Sinosauropteryx is the earliest bird-like dinosaur. For now, the bird-like animals include (in chronological order):

OTHER DINOSAUR-BIRD FOSSILS

Birds probably evolved from the maniraptors, a branch of bird-like dinosaurs. The Archaeopteryx is the oldest known fossil bird, and dates from the late Jurassic period (about 150 million years ago), now extinct. Although it had feathers and could fly, it had similarities to dinosaurs, including its teeth, skull, and certain bone structures.

RELATED LINKS:
Information about Sinosauropteryx prima.

Information about Caudipteryx zoui.

A page on Protarchaeopteryx robusta.

Information on Unenlagia comahuensis.

Other fossils found in China.

A site about Birds.

A Chart of geological time.




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