Dinosaurs had 'earliest feathers'

Discussion in 'Science and Nature' started by MelT, Sep 25, 2009.

  1. By Jonathan Amos
    Science reporter, BBC News


    Exceptionally well preserved dinosaur fossils uncovered in north-eastern China display the earliest known feathers. The creatures are all more than 150 million years old. The new finds are indisputably older than Archaeopteryx, the oldest recognised bird discovered in Germany. Professor Xu Xing and colleagues tell the journal Nature that this represents the final proof that dinosaurs were ancestral to birds.
    The theory that birds evolved from dinosaurs has always been troubled by the absence of feathers more ancient than those on the famous Archaeopteryx.
    [​IMG][​IMG] All over the skeleton, you see feathers [​IMG]

    Xu Xing

    This has given critics room to question the idea.
    But the new fossils, which come from two separate locations, are in most cases about 10 million years older than the German bird discovered in the late 19th Century. One of the dinosaurs, named Anchiornis huxleyi, is spectacular in its preservation. It has extensive plumage covering its arms and tail, and also its feet - a "four-winged" arrangement, says Professor Xu from the Chinese Academy of Science in Beijing.
    'Immensely exciting'
    "The first specimen we discovered earlier this year was incomplete," he told BBC News. "Based on that specimen, we named it Anchiornis; and we thought it was a close relative of birds. But then we got a second specimen, which was very complete - beautifully preserved.
    [​IMG] Archaeopteryx, the "oldest bird", lived in what is now southern Germany

    "All over the skeleton, you see feathers.
    "Based on this second specimen, we realised that this was a much more important species, and definitely one of the most important species for our understanding of the origin of birds and of their flight."
    Professor Xu believes the four-winged shape may have been a very important stage in the evolutionary transition from dinosaurs to birds.
    Details of the latest discoveries have been presented this week at the annual meeting of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontologists, being held this year at the University of Bristol, UK.
    The renowned Bristol palaeontologist Michael Benton said the announcement was immensely exciting. "Drawing the tree of life, it's fairly obvious that feathers arose before Archaeopteryx appears in the fossil record," he told BBC News.
    "Now these fantastic new discoveries by Professor Xu Xing prove that once and for all.
    "These new discoveries are maybe 10 million years older than Archaeopteryx."

  2. They DO move in herds!
  3. I hope it's a vegisaurus!

  4. LOL! Me too:)

  5. Im glad they found very strong evidence.
    What I've always wondered though is, how common or uncommon is the behavior of birds (aves) and dinosaurs (reptiles?).
  6. Supposedly... Dinosaurs weren't reptiles...they were warm blooded...why would they act the same?
  7. We don't really know much about how they acted.

    Ever look at a large bird of prey? I think there's a pretty big resemblance.
  8. So what we should take away from this seminar is that birds evolved from dinosaurs? Because not all dinosaurs had feathers right?

    Are reptiles and birds more closely related than we think?

  9. Hmmmmm...interesting

    ADW: Reptilia: Information

  10. The genetics are similar.
    Some science team were able to get a chick, alter the DNA, and when it hatched it came out with dinosaurian features, like teeth, an extra large claw (like raptors).
    Im just responding quickly right now so I have no link, Id figure if youre really interested youll do a google search.
  11. I thought it was widely speculated that reptiles and birds were both related through dinosaurs. The skeletal structures of some dinosaurs so closely resemble that of birds its crazy. It seems like dinosaurs evolved in two completely different directions.

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