New Study Restores Famed Fossil to "Bird" Branch

3:08 PM, May 29, 2013   |    comments
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LOS ANGELES (AP) - Scientists say a recent fossil find restores a raven-sized creature that lived about 150 million years ago back to its perch.

Archaeopteryx is widely considered the earliest known bird. But its status was questioned by Chinese scientists. They wanted to yank the prehistoric creature off the "bird" branch of the evolutionary family tree and move it onto a closely related lineage of birdlike dinosaurs.

Now an international team reporting in Thursday's issue of Nature says the creature should indeed be considered a bird.

The latest evidence comes from the discovery of a previously unknown dinosaur. Researchers compared its anatomy to various early birds and dinosaurs to determine their relationship. The analysis puts Archaeopteryx back into the bird category.

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