Friday, December 02, 2005

Archaeopteryx Fossil Had Dinosaur Feet

A new analysis of Archaeopteryx, the earliest known birdlike animal, shows it had feet like dinosaurs — a finding that adds weight to the belief that the birds frequenting backyard feeders today are descendants of mighty ancient carnivores.

While not all scientists agree, many consider Archaeopteryx the first bird, since it had wings and was the first fossil found with feathers.

Details have been lacking on the animals, however, since only a few fossil specimens have been found. The new one, reported in Friday's issue of the journal Science, is the 10th known and one of the most complete.

Contrary to what had been thought, the new fossil shows that the first toe was not reversed in Archaeopteryx, as is the case on current birds, according to a team led by Gerald Mayr of Research Institute Schenkenberg in Frankfurt, Germany.

Lack of the reversed toe would hamper the animal's ability to perch like current birds, the researchers said.

On the other hand, it's second toe could be extended, like those of theropod — beast-footed — dinosaurs, a group that included such well known examples as T. rex.


Archaeopteryx was originally identified as the earliest fossil bird because of its feathers, Carrano said. Since then other dinosaurs with feathers have been found; if Archaeopteryx were discovered today it probably would be considered more dinosaur than bird, he said.

Read the rest here

Now that this is it a bird? Or a dinosaur with feathers that we simply misidentified because of our own prejudices? hmmm?

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