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Early bird five million years older than thought

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The following post was generated by UD’s just-acquired, state-of-the-art news reporting app, Earlier Than Thought TM 😉

From the BBC:

Scientists in China have described a new species of early bird, from two fossils with intact plumage dating to 130 million years ago.

Based on the age of the surrounding rocks, this is the earliest known member of the clade that produced today’s birds: Ornithuromorpha.

It pushes back the branching-out of this evolutionary group by at least five million years.

The little bird appears to have been a wader, capable of nimble flight.

… previously the earliest known Ornithuromorph was 125 million years old. More.

Here’s the abstract:

Ornithuromorpha is the most inclusive clade containing extant birds but not the Mesozoic Enantiornithes. The early evolutionary history of this avian clade has been advanced with recent discoveries from Cretaceous deposits, indicating that Ornithuromorpha and Enantiornithes are the two major avian groups in Mesozoic. Here we report on a new ornithuromorph bird, Archaeornithura meemannae gen. et sp. nov., from the second oldest avian-bearing deposits (130.7?Ma) in the world. The new taxon is referable to the Hongshanornithidae and constitutes the oldest record of the Ornithuromorpha. However, A. meemannae shows few primitive features relative to younger hongshanornithids and is deeply nested within the Hongshanornithidae, suggesting that this clade is already well established. The new discovery extends the record of Ornithuromorpha by five to six million years, which in turn pushes back the divergence times of early avian lingeages into the Early Cretaceous. (Public access) – Min Wang et al., Nature Communications 6, Article number: 6987 doi:10.1038/ncomms7987

See also: Finally, retiring the term living fossil is hot?

and

Stasis: 150 mya crab fossil is just like modern crab

If so many things have happened earlier than we thought, the Darwinian window (natural selection acting on random mutation) has gotten much smaller. No wonder all the ferment.

See also:

Surprise fruit from the “Tree of Life”:  That species arise because of chance mutations — not natural selection. There are lots of critics but the striking thing is that it can now even be discussed.

What’s this about the “strange inevitability” of evolution? What, this is a demonstration of the fine tuning of the universe for life? But isn’t that heresy?

and

New origin theory for cells that gave rise to vertebrates: If the neural crest cells did not have to evolve, but rather the “incredible properties” were there all along, is that not an argument for design in nature?

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2 Replies to “Early bird five million years older than thought

  1. 1
    Mung says:

    Well, at least we now know which bird got the worm.

  2. 2
    Querius says:

    Darn, you beat me to it, Mung! You were the early bird. 😉

    -Q

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