Evidence for Dinosaur-Bird Links Found
announced Friday that the fossilized tiny dinosaur they are studying
has an extremely similar structure to modern birds.
The 125 million-year-old dinosaur, named Microraptor
zhaoianus, is regarded as the latest evidence for the dinosaur-bird
relationship, which has been challenged by international academic
Nature, the authoritative British Science
Journal, published the new find, reached by Xu Xing, Zhou Zhonghe
and Wang Xiaolin, all researchers with Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology
and Paleoanthropology under the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS),
on December 7.
"The bone structure of Microraptor zhaoianus
seems like an exact copy of Archaeopteryx, which is the widely-regarded
earliest bird," Xu said at an interview with Xinhua.
The fossil shows some bird-like characteristics
in its teeth and bones, including an extended toe that may have
been used to grasp tree limbs.
The researchers claimed that the new fossil
might ultimately help prove the theory that flight evolved in tree
dwellers, rather than in ground-bound animals.
Before the find of the 40 centimeter-long
fossil in northeast China's Liaoning Province, scientists worldwide
hardly believed that dinosaurs could perch on trees and gradually
develop their aviation capability when gliding between trees.
Meanwhile, the fossilized theropod indicates
hints of feathers. The depressions in the fossil might be rachis
of its feather, Xu said.
According to Xu, they are trying to restore
the environmental and ecological circumstances at ancient times
when this kind of dinosaur lived.