New dinosaur fossil challenges bird evolution theory
The discovery of a new bird-like dinosaur from the Jurassic period challenges widely accepted theories on the origin of flight. Co-authored by Dr Gareth Dyke, Senior Lecturer in Vertebrate Palaeontology at the University of Southampton, the paper describes a new feathered dinosaur about 30 cm in length which pre-dates bird-like dinosaurs that birds were long thought to have evolved from.
Over many years, it has become accepted among palaeontologists that birds evolved from a group of dinosaurs called theropods from the Early Cretaceous period of Earth's history, around 120-130 million years ago. Recent discoveries of feathered dinosaurs from the older Middle-Late Jurassic period have reinforced this theory.
The new 'bird-dinosaur' Eosinopteryx described in Nature Communications this week provides additional evidence to this effect.
"This discovery sheds further doubt on the theory that the famous fossil Archaeopteryx -- or "first bird" as it is sometimes referred to -- was pivotal in the evolution of modern birds," says Dr Dyke, who is based at the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton.
"Our findings suggest that the origin of flight was much more complex than previously thought."
The fossilised remains found in north-eastern China indicate that, while feathered, this was a flightless dinosaur, because of its small wingspan and a bone structure that would have restricted its ability to flap its wings.
The dinosaur also had toes suited to walking along the ground and fewer feathers on its tail and lower legs, which would have made it easier to run.
Dr Gareth Dyke is also Programme Leader for a new one-year MRes in Vertebrate Palaeontology, which offers potential students the chance to study the evolution and anatomy of vertebrates, in order to inform and increase our understanding of the workings of modern day creatures.
Dr Dyke's co-authors are Pascal Godefroit of the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences, Helena Demuynck of Earth System Science Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Dongyu Hu of Paleontological Institute Shenyang Normal University China and Key Laboratory of Vegetation Ecology Northeast Normal University China, François Escuillié of Eldonia France and Philippe Claeys of Jilin University Geological Museum China.
Source: University of Southampton
- Feathered dinosaur gives evolution cluesfrom UPIThu, 24 Jan 2013, 14:30:13 EST
- Dinosaur fossil challenges bird evolution theoryfrom Science BlogThu, 24 Jan 2013, 14:00:43 EST
- New dinosaur fossil challenges bird evolution theoryfrom PhysorgThu, 24 Jan 2013, 13:20:19 EST
- New dinosaur fossil challenges bird evolution theoryfrom Science DailyThu, 24 Jan 2013, 12:00:40 EST
Latest Science NewsletterGet the latest and most popular science news articles of the week in your Inbox! It's free!
Learn more about
Check out our next project, Biology.Net
From other science news sites
Popular science news articles
- Scripps researchers map out trajectory of April 2015 earthquake in Nepal
- First measurements taken of South Africa's Iron Age magnetic field history
- New study: Consumers don't view GMO labels as negative 'warnings'
- Mobile stroke treatment units may greatly improve survival rates, chance of recovery for ischemic stroke patients
- Astronomers discover powerful aurora beyond solar system
- Seahorse tails could inspire new generation of robots
- Human brain study by UCLA and UK researchers sheds light on how new memories are formed
- Neutrons find 'missing' magnetism of plutonium
- Autonomous taxis would deliver significant environmental and economic benefits
- New study shows South Africans using milk-based paint 49,000 years ago