Unusual fossils discovered by Chinese researchers raise concerns about evolution

Unusual fossils have been discovered in China that appear to have a dinosaur-like head and a bird-like body, raising fresh concerns regarding the transition from dinosaurs to birds.

Ancient Fossil Bird Impression

The theory that birds descended from dinosaurs is widely recognised among biologists. However, the Chinese Academy of Sciences claims that palaeontologists still don’t fully understand the scope of this remarkable change. A 120-million-year-old fossil has now added more controversy to the already contentious topic. The recently discovered fossil appears to have a bird-like body and a dinosaur-like head.

The Cratonavis Shui stands out from all other birds, including those that have been found as fossils, due to its “significantly enlarged” scapula and first metatarsal bones, according to a study that was just published in Nature Ecology & Evolution.

The Archaeopteryx, a dinosaur that resembles a reptile, and the Ornithothoraces are located next to one another in the evolutionary tree of aviation. Many of the traits we associate with contemporary birds were already present in the latter group.

Ancient Bird Fossil

Photograph of the 120-million-year-old bird Cratonavis Shui. (Wang Min)

While the fossil was still encased in its rocky resting place, the researchers first employed high-resolution CT scanning to investigate it. Later, the bones were digitally removed, and the original form and function of the cranium were recreated. At this moment, it was noticed that the fossil’s skull looked more like that of a dinosaur like a T. rex than a bird.

The unusual anatomy of the scapula (the bone in the shoulder), according to co-author Wang Min, allowed the species to better spin its wing, making up for its limited flight ability.

A sign of how all living things represent small steps of progress, Cratonavis zhug’s distinctive blend of anatomy shows that the evolution of birds of all feathers happened simultaneously along a broad variety of diverse paths rather than serving as a bridge between two spectacular animal groups.

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