Dinosaur Missing Link Fossil Discovered: 127 Million-Year-Old Baby Bird Rewrites Story of Evolution

Monday, 05 March 2018 - 10:50AM
Monday, 05 March 2018 - 10:50AM
Dinosaur Missing Link Fossil Discovered: 127 Million-Year-Old Baby Bird Rewrites Story of Evolution
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Image credit: YouTube
Ever since the release of Jurassic Park, it's been common knowledge that dinosaurs share more than a few similarities with birds.

As the years have gone by, more data has proven that, contrary to popular belief, many dinosaurs were covered in feathers, giving them a far more avian look.

What's even less well known, though, is that there were actually some types of birds in existence in the time of the dinosaurs, which looked very similar to the airborne fowl that we're used to seeing today. A new paper, published in Nature Communications, shows off the findings of an analysis of an adorable tiny baby bird that was born (and subsequently died) around 127 million years ago, during the Early Cretaceous period of Earth's history.




Measuring just two inches tall and likely weighing just 10 pounds, the adorable tiny fossil looks much like birds of our era—save, of course, for its pointed teeth and claws, which birds have long since ditched.

The fossil was initially found years ago, but it's only recently been treated to an in-depth study, as technology has increased to the point where the bird can be fully scanned and examined.

According to the study's Dr. Fabien Knoll:

Opening quote
"New technologies are offering paleontologists unprecedented capacities to investigate provocative fossils. Here we made the most of state-of-the-art facilities worldwide including three different synchrotrons in France, the U.K. and the United States."
Closing quote


Using modern technology, scientists have been able to determine that the poor little bird, which died just hours after hatching, wouldn't yet have been capable of flight. It seems that, at this age, the bird would have relied heavily on its parents for nutrients, as is the case with some bird that are alive in our time. The fossil's skeletal structure has a lot in common with modern-day birds, showing that life in the time of the dinosaurs wasn't always so different to what we're used to seeing today.




According to co-author Luis Chiappe:

Opening quote
"This new discovery, together with others from around the world, allows us to peek into the world of ancient birds that lived during the age of dinosaurs. It is amazing to realize how many of the features we see among living birds had already been developed more than 100 million years ago."
Closing quote


While dinosaurs may not have survived a period of mass extinction from 65 million years ago, it's interesting to take a good look at this ancient baby bird fossil and realize that many of the modern traits of common birds were already seen in species from when the dinosaurs were alive.

The link between dinosaurs and birds is getting clearer as we study these creatures, and this information will no doubt come in handy when someone (probably Elon Musk) inevitably tries to open their own Jurassic Park at some point in the future.
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Dinosaur Missing Link Fossil Discovered: 127 Million-Year-Old Baby Bird Changes Story of Evolution