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Step Aside, Archaeopteryx

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The skeleton of an Aurornis xui was found in Yizhou Fossil & Geology Park, China. A contender for the title of 'world's first bird,' this bird - slash - bird-like dinosaur lived in Asia in the Middle/Late Jurassic, about 150 million years ago. Courtesy of Masato Hattori / LiveScience.com
A fossil found last year resting at a museum in Yizhou, China, may represent the ancient contender for the title of the "world's oldest bird." Not everyone agrees, but "Aurornis" may displace "Archaeopteryx" for the title.

This fossil has been deemed to have been a bird, not a dinosaur. "Aurornis" lived during the Middle Jurassic period, about 150 million years ago. It was probably about 19 inches long, from beak tip to tail tip.  This beast probably couldn't fly, but could have used its wings to glide between trees. The fossil's feathers are not well-preserved, but some of the bones and other features suggest that it was a relative of modern birds.

Details are contained in the 30 May issue of the journal NATURE, and are summarized here:


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World's first bird? New fossil bumps Archaeopteryx off its perch.

Christian Science Monitor


A new contender for the world's first bird, the feathered Aurornis xui is older than the more famous Archaeopteryx, which it reconfirms as a bird, not a dinosaur. But the line between birds and dinosaurs remains fuzzy.


Read more: http://www.csmonitor.com/Science/2013/0530/World-s-first-bird-New-fossil-bumps-Archaeopteryx-off-its-perch

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