Oldest bird ancestor discovered

Two new fossils have been discovered from the ornithuromorpha clade – the group that includes all living birds. What’s more, they lived 5 million years before any other member

Concept drawing of Archaeornithura meemannae. Credit: Zongda Zhang.
Concept drawing of Archaeornithura meemannae. Credit: Zongda Zhang.

After the discovery of the feathered Archaeopteryx in 1861, scientists of the day thought they had found the origin of all birds. They were wrong.

The Archaeopteryx died out along with the rest of the dinosaurs. The search has been on to find the true ancestor of all modern birds and a team from the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) has finally done it.

The newly discovered specimens have been named Archaeornithura meemanna. At over 130 million years old, they are the oldest bird ancestors ever found. The discovery has pushed back the origin date of birds as a whole by 5 million years.

See the newly published paper here.


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