Archaeological Discoveries
in 2001
Archaeological Discoveries
in 2000
Top Ten Archaeological Finds
for 1999
Archaeological Discoveries
in 1999

New Evidence for Dinosaur-Bird Links Found

  Chinese scientists 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 circles.

  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.

(Xinhua 12/08/2000)