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Re: New Oldest Bird?



At 5:08 PM -0500 2/17/05, mjmurphy wrote:
>I haven't seen anyone mention this, ie. a short article in New Scientist 
>concerning Pedopenna daohugouensis, another small Chinese Dinosaur with "large 
>leg feathers" that may be older than archaeopteryx.  Story can be found at:
>
>http://www.newscientist.com/channel/life/mg18524874.700
>

The first sentence calls Pedopenna a dinosaur, and that's the general 
assumption. It's bird-like in the sense of being part of the same Eumaniraptora 
clade as Archaeopteryx and Dromeosaurs, but that didn't come across as clearly 
in the article as I would have liked. (These short pieces are shoehorned into a 
very small space.) With only a partial leg, it's hard to be definitive about 
the rest of it, but the foot feathers indicate that feathers on the hind limbs 
was likely linked to the origin of flight, since Pedopenna, Archaeopteryx and 
Microraptor all had them. 

The big unknown is how old Pedopenna is. It could be older then Archaeopteryx, 
depending on the interpretation of the age of the deposits. It's definitely 
pre-Liaoning, although maybe not by much. 
-- 
Jeff Hecht, science & technology writer
jeff@jeffhecht.com; http://www.jeffhecht.com
Boston Correspondent: New Scientist magazine
Contributing Editor: Laser Focus World
525 Auburn St., Auburndale, MA 02466 USA
v. 617-965-3834; fax 617-332-4760