Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Archaeopteryx Knocked Off Its Perch

You can now tear all these drawings
out of your textbooks.
Archaeopteryx was not a dinosaur-like bird, but only a birdlike dinosaur. See John Noble Wilford's "Birdlike Dinosaur Fossil May Shake Up the Avian Family Tree."

Wilford writes: "Archaeopteryx presumably was not an ancestral bird. The recent discovery of a tenth Archaeopteryx specimen “greatly improved our knowledge” of its similarities to the dinosaur group and its differences from birds, the paleontologists said."

Ohio University paleontologist Lawrence Witmer says "there has been growing unease about the avian status of Archaeopteryx as, one by one, its ‘avian’ attributes (feathers, wishbone, three-fingered hand) started showing up in non-avian dinosaurs."... Since “virtually all our notions about early avian evolution have previously been viewed through the lens of Archaeopteryx,” Dr. Witmer said, “the impact of losing Archaeopteryx from the avian clan is likely to rock the paleontological community for years to come.”"

See also Scientific American - ""First Bird" Fossil, Archaeopteryx, More Closely Related to Dinosaurs."