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> could it be that _Archaeopteryx_ was NOT the first bird?
Who said something like Archaeopteryx being the first bird?
Archaeopteryx is the first _known_ taxon _defined_ as bird (Aves).
There are very few Jurassic small theropod fossils found. And there's a
Mid Jurassic gap in the fossil record where no small theropod fossils
are known at all. So right know Archaeopteryx is the only Jurassic
candidate we've got.
Archaeoptery is a bird by definition. The first fossil of it was found in 1861.
And because it showed feathers it was said to belong to Aves, to be a bird.
Aves is defined as Archaeopteryx + Neornithes. So whatever will be found
by further examination of fossils of Archaeopteryx,
Archaeopteryx will always stay inside Aves, always being a bird.
I doubt if Archaeopteryx would have be used to define Aves, if these
(fanatastic) Chinese dino-birds would have been found first.
Tim Williams wrote:
> What we need is the direct ancestor of _Archaeopteryx_,
> and maybe the direct ancestor of that species,
> and maybe the direct ancestor of that species.
A direct ancestor-descendant relationship? Isn't that near impossible to prove
for two given taxa?
Don't we rather need to find fossils which will fall out in an (cladistic)
analysis as more and more basal to Archaeopteryx?
Heinz Peter Bredow