Current Weather
The Spy FM

New Discovery Knocks ‘Oldest Bird’ Off Its Perch

Filed by KOSU News in Science.
May 29, 2013

Move over Archaeopteryx, an older bird just landed on the evolutionary tree.

Scientists writing in Nature magazine, say a feathered, chicken-sized creature known as Aurornis xui, unearthed recently in northeastern China, challenges the “pivotal position of Archaeopteryx” — long regarded as the oldest bird.

Aurornis is dated to the Jurassic period, 160 million years ago and about 10 million years before Archaeopteryx makes its first known appearance in the fossil record.

“Our analyses indicate [Aurornis is] the most primitive bird known,” co-author Andrea Cau, a vertebrate paleontologist at the Museo Geologico Giovanni Capellini in Italy, says. “It looked like a ground bird, but with a long tail, clawed hands and toothed jaws.”

As The Los Angeles Times writes:

“The study authors argue that Aurornis represents the earliest known bird, but other scientists say it could be part of a group of bird-like dinosaurs that were developing feathers and bird-like features but never quite got off the ground, evolutionarily speaking.

‘You’re looking at an animal that is either a very primitive bird or something very closely related to birds,’ said [Luis] Chiappe, a veterbrate paleontologist at the National History Museum of Los Angeles who is not involved in the Nature study. ‘I tend to think that it’s not a bird, but that it’s one of those true very close ancestors of bird.’”

The discovery is not all bad news for newly dethroned Archaeopteryx.

Before the study, there was debate as to whether it was indeed a fully fledged bird, but the authors of the study believe that the discovery of Aurornis puts the branches of the bird lineage in context and restores Archaeopteryx to flight status. [Copyright 2013 NPR]

Leave a Reply

9AM to 10AM The Takeaway

The Takeaway

A fresh alternative in morning news, "The Takeaway" provides a breadth and depth of world, national and regional news coverage that is unprecedented in public media.

Listen Live Now!

10AM to 11PM On Point

On Point

On Point unites distinct and provocative voices with passionate discussion as it confronts the stories that are at the center of what is important in the world today. Leaving no perspective unchallenged, On Point digs past the surface and into the core of a subject, exposing each of its real world implications.

View the program guide!

11AM to 12PM The Story

The Story

The Story with Dick Gordon brings the news home through first-person accounts. The live weekday program is passionate, personal, immediate and relevant to listeners, focusing on the news where it changes our lives, causes us to stop and rethink, inspires us.

View the program guide!

Upcoming Events in your area (Submit your event today!)

Streaming audio and podcasts

Stream KOSU on your smartphone

Phone Streaming

SmartPhone listening options on this page are intended for many iPhones, Blackberries, etc. with low-cost software applications available to listen to our full-time web streams, both News on KOSU-1 and Classical on KOSU-2.

Learn more about our complete range of streaming services

We're perfecting the patient experience - Stillwater Medical Center