News & AnalysisPaleontology

Bad Birthday News for First Bird?

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Science  29 Jul 2011:
Vol. 333, Issue 6042, pp. 511
DOI: 10.1126/science.333.6042.511

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The 150-million-year-old Archaeopteryx has long been hailed as the earliest known bird. A team led by one of the world's most successful fossil hunters now says it isn't a bird after all. That claim, published this week in Nature, is based on a new fossil from China. Xiaotingia zhengi looks a lot like Archaeopteryx and is apparently just 10 million years older. But the team argues that both Xiaotingia and Archaeopteryx more closely resemble a group of carnivorous, nonavian dinosaurs that includes Velociraptor, which played a starring role in the film Jurassic Park.