News & CommentPaleontology

Scientists Flock to Explore China's 'Site of the Century'

Science  13 Mar 1998:
Vol. 279, Issue 5357, pp. 1626-1627
DOI: 10.1126/science.279.5357.1626

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BEIPIAO, CHINA-- In the past few years, a 46-square-kilometer region south of town called Sihetun, part of the fossil-rich Yixian formation, has produced a series of spectacular fossils that are helping rewrite a key chapter in evolution. Thanks to exquisite preservation of soft parts, it's possible to see dragonfly wings, feathers, and fur on fossils estimated to be perhaps 120 million to 130 million years old. The stunning preservation, matched by only a few other sites worldwide, allows paleontologists to explore how feathers and flight evolved, as well as the relationship of dinosaurs to primitive birds, both of which are major scientific questions about the history of life.