RESEARCHERS in Germany (德國) have unearthed a new species of ﬂying dinosaur that could hold vital clues as to how modernday birds evolved from their reptilian ancestors.
For more than a century and a half since its discovery in 1861, Archaeopteryx – a small, feathered dinosaur around the size of a crow that lived in marshland around 150 million years ago – was widely considered to be the oldest ﬂying bird.
Palaeontologists examined rock formations in the German region of Bavaria, home to nearly all known Archaeopteryx specimens. They came across a petriﬁed wing, which the team initially assumed to be of the same species.
“There are similarities, but after comparisons with Archaeopteryx and other, geologically younger birds, its fossil remains suggested that we were dealing with a somewhat more derived bird,” said lead study author Oliver Rauhut.
They called the new bird-like dinosaur Alcmonavis poeschli – partly from its discoverer, excavation leader Roland Poeschl, and said it was “the most bird-like bird discovered from the Jurassic”.
The new specimen had more notches in its wing bones, which points to muscles that would have allowed it to actively ﬂap its wings.
The discovery is likely to fuel debate among dinosaur experts over whether birds and dinosaurs developed the ability to ﬂap their wings from earlier gliding species.