New fossil bird found

May 1, 2008
New fossil bird found
Eoconfuciusornis zhengi, skeleton and feather impressions. Photo by Dr Zhoiu Zhonghe

Details of a fabulous new fossil bird from the world-famous fossil deposits of Liaoning in China, are published this week in the journal Science in China. Details of the bird's bone structure and feathers are exquisitely preserved.

The new bird, Eoconfuciusornis is the oldest known confuciusornithid, a group unique to China. It therefore represents an early stage in bird evolution. Confuciusornithids lived from 120-131 million years ago and include the oldest birds with horny beaks.

The fossil deposits of Liaoning, called collectively the Jehol Group, span much of the Early Cretaceous. Eoconfuciusornis falls between Archaeopteryx (150 million years) and the bulk of the Liaoning birds (125 million years), and it shows an intermediate stage in the improvement of bird flying capabilities.

Most bird fossils come from the Jiufotang and Yixian groups, dated about 125-120 million years, but the Dabeigou Formation where Eoconfuciusornis was found is 131 million years, so giving a span of 11 million years of evolution of this particular bird group.

The research was carried out at the University of Bristol by Dr Zhang Fucheng during 2005-6 in the Department of Earth Sciences. Professor Mike Benton who supervised Dr Zhang Fucheng when he was at Bristol said: “China never ceases to amaze, with remarkable new fossils being found again and again. The Eoconfuciusornis fossil is hugely important in plugging a major gap in our knowledge of bird evolution immediately after Archaeopteryx.”

Source: University of Bristol

Explore further: Fatty bird gland preserved over 48 million years

Related Stories

Fatty bird gland preserved over 48 million years

October 18, 2017

(Phys.org)—A team of researchers from the U.S., Ireland, Germany and the U.K. has found evidence of preservation of a fatty oil gland from a 48-million-year-old fossilized bird. In their paper published in Proceedings of ...

Dino-killing asteroid sped up bird evolution

September 21, 2017

Human activities could change the pace of evolution, similar to what occurred 66 million years ago when a giant asteroid wiped out the dinosaurs, leaving modern birds as their only descendants. That's one conclusion drawn ...

Non-avian dinosaur found to have laid blue eggs

September 20, 2017

(Phys.org)—A team of researchers from Germany and the U.S. has found that a non-avian dinosaur living in what is now China laid colored eggs. In their paper published on the peer-reviewed site PeerJ, the team describes ...

Big herbivorous dinosaurs ate crustaceans as a side dish

September 21, 2017

Some big plant-eating dinosaurs roaming present-day Utah some 75 million years ago were slurping up crustaceans on the side, a behavior that may have been tied to reproductive activities, says a new University of Colorado ...

Recommended for you

Metacognition training boosts gen chem exam scores

October 20, 2017

It's a lesson in scholastic humility: You waltz into an exam, confident that you've got a good enough grip on the class material to swing an 80 percent or so, maybe a 90 if some of the questions go your way.

Scientists see order in complex patterns of river deltas

October 19, 2017

River deltas, with their intricate networks of waterways, coastal barrier islands, wetlands and estuaries, often appear to have been formed by random processes, but scientists at the University of California, Irvine and other ...

Six degrees of separation: Why it is a small world after all

October 19, 2017

It's a small world after all - and now science has explained why. A study conducted by the University of Leicester and KU Leuven, Belgium, examined how small worlds emerge spontaneously in all kinds of networks, including ...

Ancient DNA offers new view on saber-toothed cats' past

October 19, 2017

Researchers who've analyzed the complete mitochondrial genomes from ancient samples representing two species of saber-toothed cats have a new take on the animals' history over the last 50,000 years. The data suggest that ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.