Fossil of Bird Ancestor Discovered in China
Two recently discovered fossils of a new bird ancestor have the world rethinking the adventure of how the Earth’s bird population evolved into the modern birds we know today. The two specimens were named Archaeornithura meemannae and were discovered at the Sichakou basin in Hebei province of China and are thought to be about 130 million years old.
Scientists from the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing reported that these two new fossils of a bird ancestor push back the accepted origination date of when birds first appeared on the Earth by about five million years earlier than previously thought, making this new find an adventure in biology and the evolutionary story of the birds of our world.
Bird Ancestor Small, Feathered Creatures
The fossils of the bird ancestor show that these birds were about ten centimeters long, and that their tail feathers were shaped like a fin much like the same modern birds. The scientists in the study say it is the first time that they have been able to show that these birds actually had feathers for this group of bird species.
The bird ancestor fossil is believed to be of the clade family, which has the scientific name of Ornithuromorpha. It is thought to have been a wading bird which had the ability to fight off its enemies. It would have lived in what is now Northern China and is thought to have been very quick and agile, and would have lived in the Early Cretaceous period.
Birds Came After Dinosaurs Dying Out
The evolution of birds appears to have begun about 150 million years ago when the dinosaurs were starting to die out. Originally, scientists thought that Archaeopteryx was the first bird in the world, but nowadays some scientists don’t think it was a bird and categorize it as a feathered dinosaur.
The fossils of this new bird ancestor show that it had a small bump on the edge of its wings, which is exactly the same as that of today’s birds This feature is used to help them travel in the air and maneuver directional movements as they fly. Its long legs also had no feathers, which is why they believe it was a wading bird that lived in the water and likely waded through prehistoric swamps or lakes to find its food.
This new ancient bird ancestor fossil is providing vital information as to the origin of modern birds and how they evolved into the bird species we know today. The scientists who are studying the two fossils are sharing a huge adventure in knowledge that will be passed down in a scientific journal article called Nature Communications.