Prehistoric bird fossil found in China

December 15, 2005

The fossil of a previously unknown water bird that lived some 125 million years ago has been found in sandstone near Inner Mongolia in northeast China.

Experts say the new type of wading bird provides important clues to the evolution of later birds, National Geographic News reported Wednesday.

The finely preserved fossil reveals a small relative of modern birds that lived around lakeshores also inhabited by dinosaurs. The bird -- named Hongshanornis longicresta for an early Chinese culture that lived in the same region -- had a distinctive head crest, long legs, short wings and a pointed beak.

Chinese fossil experts Zhonghe Zhou and Fucheng Zhang, members of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, describe the discovery in the online early edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy.

Copyright 2005 by United Press International

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