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The latest (April 19) issue of New Scientist reports the discovery of
Protarchaeopteryx, which appears to be a close evolutionary predecessor of
Archaeopteryx. It was named by Ji Qiang and Ji Shu'an of the National
Geological Museum of China in Beijing, in a paper in the Chinese-language
journal Chinese Geology. It has smaller front limbs and heavier hind legs
than archaeopteryx and is larger. Wing feathers are not preserved, and the
feathers along the tail are not unambiguously attached to the vertebrae. It
was found in the Liaoning deposits, above Sinosauropteryx and below
Confuciusornis. Lots of questions remain, but this is a seriously exciting

Jeff Hecht     Boston Correspondent    New Scientist magazine
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see New Scientist on the Web: URL http://www.newscientist.com/