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Scientists discover new species of bird-like dinosaurs

A new 150-million-year-old theropod-avian was discovered in China. Fujianvenator prodigiosus provides new insights into the evolution of early birds and late terrestrial ecosystems Dinosaur era.

Birds evolved from theropod dinosaurs before the late Jurassic period, but our understanding of the earliest evolution of the class Avialae, which encompasses all modern birds, is still limited. Deinonychus or TroodonIt is complicated by the limited diversity of fossils from the Jurassic period. (A clade is a group of organisms consisting of a common ancestor and its direct descendants, representing a branch of the “tree of life.”)

At present, no definitive Avialan has been reported except for the Middle-Late Jurassic Yanliao Biota of northeastern China (166–159 million years ago) and the slightly younger Solnhofen Limestones of Germany. archeopteryx. So there is a gap of about 30 million years before the earliest known Cretaceous bird records. But Jurassic birds hold the key to unraveling the evolutionary origins of birds’ characteristic body plan. More importantly, they are key to reconciling the phylogenetic dispute over the origin of birds.

Photograph and interpretive line drawing of the avialan theropod Fujianvenator prodigiosus It is 150 million years old, with phylogeny and paleomap showing the location of the Zhenghe fauna (red star). Author: Ming Wang

A new discovery

A joint research team from the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology (IVPP) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing and the Fujian Institute of Geological Survey (FIGS) described and analyzed a new 150-million-year-old bird theropod from Zhenghe County. . , Fujian Province.

A new species has been named Fujianvenator geniusIt displays a peculiar assemblage of morphologies shared with other bird species, troodontids, and dromaeosaurids, demonstrating the impact of evolutionary mosaicism on the evolution of early birds.

Morphometric space of body plan and handwriting Fujianvenator genius compared to other Mesozoic theropods. Author: Ming Wang

Fujianvenator’s unique morphology

The lead author of the study from IVPP and the corresponding author of the study, Dr. “Our comparative analysis shows that marked changes in body plan occurred in the early bird lineage, driven mainly by the forelimbs, eventually leading to typical bird limb proportions,” said Ming Wang. “But fujianvenator ‘It is a peculiar species that has deviated from this basic orbit and developed a peculiar hind limb architecture.’

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The surprisingly elongated tibia and other morphologies, combined with other geological observations, suggest that: fujianvenator It lived in a swampy environment and was a high-speed runner or long-legged waterfowl; this represented a previously unknown ecology for early birds.

Stratigraphic records and vertebrate fossil assemblages discovered in the Late Jurassic Zhenghe fauna. Author: Ming Wang

Geological context and implications

“Not including fujianvenator “We found a large number of other vertebrates, including teleosts, testudines, and choristoders,” said Limin Xu of FIGS, the study’s lead author.

During the Late Jurassic-Early Cretaceous, southeastern China experienced intense tectonic activity due to subduction of the Paleo-Pacific plate, resulting in widespread magmatism and concurrent fault basins and depressions where the Fujianvenator is located. . This geological background is essentially the same as the Late Jurassic in northern and northeastern China, where the ancient Yanliao biota is preserved.

Study co-author Dr. “The extraordinary diversity, unique vertebrate composition, and paleoenvironment strongly indicate that this region documents a terrestrial fauna that we call the Zhenghe fauna,” said Zhonghe Zhou. In situ radioisotope dating and stratigraphic studies limit the Zhenghe fauna to 150-148 Ma. For this reason, fujianvenator It documents one of the stratigraphically youngest and geographically southernmost representatives of Jurassic birds.

The discovery of the Zhenghe fauna opens a new window into the planet’s Late Jurassic terrestrial ecosystem, and the joint IVPP and FIGS research team plans to continue exploring Zhenghe and its surroundings. Source

Source: Port Altele

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