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Jinfengopteryx , new Chinese bird

From: Ben Creisler bh480@scn.org

In case this news has not been mentioned yet, Chinese 
scientist have found a new early bird. Versions of this 
story came out a few days ago but I'm still trying to find 
the official reference.


Earliest bird fossil discovered in Hebei: researcher 
Last Updated(Beijing Time):2005-03-24 10:34 
A Chinese researcher said his team has discovered the 
fossil of the world's earliest bird from the late Mesozoic 
stratum in Fengning Man Autonomous County of north China's 
Hebei Province. 
Ji Qiang, a research fellow with the Geology Institute 
under the Chinese Academy of Geological Sciences, said 
that the fossilized Jinfengopteryx elegans is more 
primitive than the archaeopteryx, previously considered 
the world's earliest bird, which was discovered in 
southern Germany in 1861. 

Ji and his colleagues have been studying the 54.8-
centimeter-long fossil of Jinfengopteryx elegans since its 
was discovered in Fengning county, about 120 kilometers 
north of Beijing, in July last year. 

Ji said, they found feathers attached to the whole body of 
the bird, which has a triangular-shaped head and 36 smooth 
teeth inside the short beak. The fossil consists of 12 
sections of cervical vertebrae, 11 sections of spine 
vertebrae and 23 sectionsof caudal vertebrae. The bird's 
tail is 27.3 centimeters long, or about 50 percent of its 
total length. 

Ji said Wednesday that several factors have lead to their 
conclusion. The Jinfengopteryx elegans' hind legs are 
longer than its forelimbs while the German bird has hind 
legs and forelimbs ofalmost the same length. Also their 
bid has more and taller teeth than the one discovered in 

Based on their research on 205 characteristics of 
Jinfengopteryx elegans, Ji and his colleagues concluded 
that the Chinese bird and the German bird belong to 
species of sisterly relations. 

Ji said, the fossil of Jinfengopteryx elegans also provide 
evidence for the cursorial hypothesis about the origin of 
avian flight. 

There are now two theories about the origin of bird 
flight, a hot topic for paleontologists around the globe. 
One is the cursorial hypothesis, which says that birds 
obtained flying ability in the process of running and 
leaping. The arboreal hypothesis says that birds acquired 
the unique skill of flutteringand soaring first through 
gliding down from tall trees.