The fossil of a bird-like dinosaur with four wings have been unearthed by Chinese researchers in North-Eastern China. This could suggest a missing link in dinosaurs’ evolution into birds.
A research paper in the ‘Nature’ journal stated the well-preserved fossil of the ‘Anchiornis huxleyi’ which roamed the earth around 160 million years ago was found in a geological formation in China’s North Eastern Liaoning province.
The fossil, around the size of a chicken had a total body length of less than 50cm and a skull 6cm long. Lead researcher, Xing Xu at the Chinese Academy of Science in Beijing said that this finding indicated that birds are likely to have descended from a species of small-sized four-winged dinosaurs 160 million years ago. He further said, “It is a link between more typical theropods (dinosaurs which moved around with two rear limbs) and birds. It lived around a time period … that we expected for birds’ ancestor.”
In an official statement, researchers said that long feathers covered the arms, tail and the feet, suggesting a four-winged stage might have existed during the transition to birds.
The transitional period from dinosaurs to birds is still a poorly understood era due to a lack of well-preserved fossils. Many scientists argue that bird-like dinosaurs appear too late in fossil records to be the true ancestors of birds.The Chinese researchers write, “The presence of such a species at this time in the fossil record effectively disputes the argument that bird-like dinosaurs appeared too late to be the ancestors of birds.”