News FocusPaleontology

Feathers, or Flight of Fancy?

Science  23 Jun 2000:
Vol. 288, Issue 5474, pp. 2124-2125
DOI: 10.1126/science.288.5474.2124

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On page 2202, researchers describe the 220-million-year-old Longisquama insignis, a squat, mouse-sized reptile with at least six vanelike appendages up to 12 centimeters long sprouting from its spine. The authors argue that the appendages are feathers much like those of modern birds; outside the paper, they have touted the fossil as "an ideal bird ancestor." That conclusion has infuriated paleontologists--not just because it challenges the prevalent theory that birds evolved from theropod dinosaurs, but because they say it does so in an unscientific way.

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