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Feathered dinosaurs dated to before 161 million years ago (Middle Jurassic) in China

From: Ben Creisler

A new online paper:

Yong-Qing Liu, Hong-Wei Kuang, Xiao-Jun Jiang, Nan Peng, Huan Xu &
Hui-Yi Sun (2012)
Timing of the earliest known feathered dinosaurs and transitional
pterosaurs older than the Jehol Biota.
Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology (advance online publication)
Yong-Qing Liu, Hong-Wei Kuang, Xiao-Jun Jiang, Nan Peng, Huan Xu &
Hui-Yi Sun (2012)

The Early Cretaceous Jehol Biota in China has produced numerous well
preserved fossils of feathered theropods and early birds. Recent
discoveries of feathered dinosaurs, as well as transitional pterosaurs
and a sexually mature individual of Darwinopterus preserved together
with an egg from the Daohugou Biota of an earlier age than the Jehol
Biota, in northeastern China, have greatly enriched our knowledge of
the transition from dinosaurs to birds and primitive to derived
pterosaurs. The age estimate of fossils or host strata, however, has
proven to be contentious and varies widely from the Middle Jurassic to
the Early Cretaceous. Here, we report a SHRIMP U-Pb zircon date
unambiguously associated with the fossil horizons, and thus, for the
first time, provide an age calibration for the earliest appearance of
feathered dinosaurs and transitional pterosaurs. Date results indicate
that the feathered dinosaurs of China were present more than 161 Ma
ago, unquestionably older than Archaeopteryx in Germany, and are the
earliest known feathered dinosaurs in the world. Furthermore, feathers
appeared in ornithischians before 159 Ma rather than late in the Early
Cretaceous. The known transitional pterosaurs first emerged before 161
Ma. The Daohugou Biota, containing mammals, primitive pterosaurs,
insects and plants, in addition to the feathered dinosaurs, was living
in Inner Mongolia ,western Liaoning and northern Hebei in northeastern
China during the Middle Jurassic.