From “Asian ‘phoenix’ lived with the dinosaurs” (ABC News, August 10, 2011), we learn that the fossil bones of a 65 million year-old bird that lived in Central Asia challenge theories about the size of early birds.
The bones measure 275 millimetres, indicating a skull that would have been a whopping 30 centimetres long.
Whether the bird was flighted or what its lifestyle was is not yet known.
Birds are believed to have evolved from tiny two-footed dinosaurs called theropods at the start of the Cretaceous era, around 150 million years ago.
The prevailing theory, based on usually-incomplete fossils, is that they remained extremely small for tens of millions of years.
And the one outlier is disputed, as it might have been a flying reptile.
From the BBC News story,
Dr Darren Naish of the University of Portsmouth
“I think the really interesting thing is that they’re living alongside the big dinosaurs we know were around at the time: big tyrannosaurs, long-necked sauropods, duck-billed dinosaurs,” he said. “That opens up loads of questions about ecological interactions that we can only speculate about.
“People have said there weren’t big birds when there were big pterosaurs, but now we know there were.”
People have said all sorts of things about ancient birds. The problem is when they become fanatics about it. Ask Feduccia