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Bird Fossils

A fossil of a small, feathered animal, Longisquama insignis, that lived approximately 220 million years ago (Ma) in what is now Central Asia, was re-discovered recently in the dusty drawers of a Moscow museum collection. This discovery has rocked the paleontological world because the fossil exhibits feather impressions, making it possibly the world's oldest known bird. Archaeopteryx, thought until now to be the oldest true bird, is from a limestone deposit in Germany dated at approximately 145 Ma. This new fossil discovery fires the debate over whether birds are descended from dinosaurs, or branched off from an earlier group of reptiles. This week's In The News takes a look at scientists' latest understanding of the reptile-bird evolutionary transition, and the surrounding controversies.
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