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AN EARLY BIRD MARS THEORY ON DINOSAURS



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Forwarded message:
From:   NewsHound@sjmercury.com (NewsHound)
To:     clayolson@aol.com
Date: 96-11-15 01:02:11 EST

AN EARLY BIRD MARS THEORY ON DINOSAURS
New York Times

NEW YORK --

[the same stuff as in the last two reports - Chris]

Their interpretation of the new fossils is certain to ruffle feathers among
paleontologists, most of whom embrace the theory that birds evolved from
dinosaurs, though fewer and fewer still think that archaeopteryx was the
direct ancestor. Ornithologists, on the other hand, have long disputed the
dinosaur-bird link, contending that dinosaurs and birds probably shared an
ancestor among predinosaur reptiles.

As Feduccia said: ``This has probably been the most contentious issue in
vertebrate paleontology for the past 30 years -- whether birds are derived
from earthbound dinosaurs or whether they are derived from antecedents of the
dinosaurs.''

Dr. Mark Norell, a paleontologist at the American Museum of Natural History,
in New York City, has made discoveries in the Gobi Desert of Mongolia that
appeared to confirm the dinosaur-bird link. He said the early fossil record
for birds was too spotty to support the conclusions of Feduccia's group. It
is possible, paleontologists argue, that some bird not yet found in the
record at about the time of archaeopteryx underwent a rapid evolutionary
spurt that gave rise to the two bird lineages.

Besides, some scientists question the dates for Liaoningornis. At a meeting
of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology last month, Dr. Derek York, a
University of Toronto geophysicist, reported new tests showing dates of 121
million years for the fossil beds in Liaoning Province.

The journal Science quoted Dr. Luis Chiappe, another paleontologist at the
American Museum, as saying that if the new fossils are indeed substantially
younger than archaeopteryx, then they may have little bearing on the origins
of birds.