Feathery Fossil Offers Insights into the Flight and Diet of an Early Bird
Birds are dinosaurs. That fact, once shocking, is now familiar and easily seen as living birds strut and flap about. Yet it’s easy to forget just how long avian dinosaurs have been around, and how quickly they evolved into feathery foreshadowings of living birds. A newly-described specimen of Hongshanornis longicresta, a roughly 125 million year old bird found in China, helps illustrate how quickly early birds evolved habits that we can still see in avian dinosaurs today.
Who the earliest bird actually was is a point of contention. That title has traditionally been held by the roughly 150 million year old Archaeopteryx, and, for some, the classic “urvogel” defines that elusive point where non-avian dinosaurs end and avian dinosaurs begin. Other