(ORDO NEWS) — The question of the origin of birds is still open, but most scientists are inclined to believe that dinosaurs were the ancestors of birds. And new discoveries bring us closer to the solution of this riddle.
Finding the remains of birds that lived millions of years ago is quite difficult, because they are poorly preserved.
And this time, scientists were lucky and at a distance of approximately 130 kilometers from the western end of the Great Wall of China in Gansu Province, China, paleontologists found the remains of ancient birds. These animals lived about 120 million years ago.
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The Changma Formation, China, is extremely valuable to paleontologists because it is one of the largest places on the planet, where numerous Mesozoic bird bones are stored. In total, about 100 specimens were found there, but many of the bones were split.
Therefore, the excavated fossils proved very difficult to identify. A total of six specimens have been described, which consist of skulls and other bones.
Since the specimens were quite severely crushed, their CT scan and complete segmentation could take years.
And they may not even give us enough information, because these thin bones are flattened almost in the same plane, and then it is almost impossible to identify them and understand where the boundaries of the bones are, says the author of the study.
Still, at least some of the bones were identified. It turned out that among the fossils there are remains of two previously unknown genera of ancient birds:
- Meemannavis ductrix is named after the Chinese paleontologist Mimman Chang. Chang became the first woman in China to head the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology in Beijing. This bird had no teeth.
- Brevidentavis zhangi – the name of this animal means “bird with short teeth”. The teeth were more like small pegs that fit snugly together.
- Other fossils are likely Gansus birds. They were the first known “true birds” in the Mesozoic. For example, Archeopteryx was more like a dinosaur.
Another highlight was the discovery of the so-called predentary, a small bone in the anterior part of the lower jaw of toothed birds.
Research shows that this bone had cartilage and could move and even be used as one of the sense organs. This helped such birds to hunt.
Such discoveries clearly show that already 120 million years ago there were many species of birds. True, many of them will die out, and those that remain will turn into modern birds.
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