Their remarkably preserved remains were discovered in rocks beneath the Jehol Biota in north eastern China – a famous collection of 130 million-year-old fossils from the Cretaceous Period.
‘This is not a parade of galumphing giants but an assemblage of quirky little creatures like feathered dinosaurs, pterosaurs with “advanced” heads on “primitive” bodies and the Mesozoic equivalent of a flying squirrel.’
Fossils include complete or nearly-complete skeletons associated with preserved soft tissues such as feathers, fur, skin or even, in some of the salamanders, external gills.
Level of preservation described: “fantastic”
Note: Chinese fossils have long been gamechangers. A friend draws our attention to this 2000 article:
Before smiling officials escorted an international group of foreign scientists to fossil sites in southern China last summer, they made sure gangs of road-building political prisoners were trucked out of sight. The fossil hunters who caught on to this unpleasant little routine shrugged it off as a problem far from their concerns.
The scientists might have been concerned about their own effort to hide troublesome matters — matters that became more apparent when they settled into a resort for a week-long symposium. Sixty scientists from around the world gathered to deliver papers dealing with the conference’s theme: “The Origins of Animal Body Plans and the Fossil Record.”
Though the Western journals Nature and Science later carried articles of the 530-million-year-old fossil discoveries announced at this conference, they made no mention of the central questions emphasized by the discoverers themselves: Why do virtually all the forty or more major animal groups, called phyla, first appear in the fossil record at the same time? Why don’t we see new anima phyla continuing to evolve after this? Why don’t Chinese paleontologists find many millions of years of evolving ancestors for any of these new-but-advanced-looking animals in the strata below them? And why does the Chinese fossil record show evolution’s subsequent history running opposite to traditional Western evolutionary-tree diagrams? More
Come to think of it, why aren’t more retirement parties held?
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