Here's the Oldest Bird Ever Found —Maybe
Aurornis xui predates Archaeopteryx, but some think China 'enhanced' fossil
By Matt Cantor, Newser User
Posted May 30, 2013 10:24 AM CDT
Updated May 30, 2013 10:40 AM CDT
The skeleton of a recently discovered dinosaur dubbed Aurornis xui that roamed China during the middle to late Jurassic period.   (AP Photo/Thierry Hubin, Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences)

(Newser) – The feathered Archaeopteryx long ago laid claim to the title of oldest known bird—but it appears there's a new oldest winged critter in town. Scientists have found a fossil of a feathered dinosaur that predates Archaeopteryx by some 10 million years: Aurornis xui, discovered in northeastern China. The find, thought to be some 160 million years old, "pushes (back) the origins of birds—or origin of animals that are very closely related to the bird," says a paleontologist. But plenty of questions remain, the Los Angeles Times notes.

While the authors of the study in question say Aurornis xui is the earliest known bird, other experts aren't certain it qualifies as a bird at all. "Around the origin of birds 160 million or so years ago, there were many fossils that were experimenting with birdness—getting more and more bird-like," says the paleontologist, who wasn't involved in the study. "What exactly the line is that made it to birds is not entirely clear ... and this is just one candidate." What's more, the fossil's incredible preservation casts some doubt on the extent of its authenticity, he says, adding that up to 80% China's museum fossils are believed to be "enhanced" by humans.

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Showing 3 of 13 comments
KDickley
Jun 5, 2013 6:04 PM CDT
Let me get this straight. We can decide how many millions of years ago an animal lived, but we can't find out which hospital in Kenya Oblabla was born, who told Susan Rice to tell those lies about Benghazi, who told Eric Holder to sell guns to drug cartels, or who told the IRS to target Tea Party Patriots. Just thinking.
iq145
May 31, 2013 12:08 AM CDT
Asia seems based on dishonesty. Why tamper which such an important science?... China sucks rocks! Here's another example. Sign the petition: http://therainforestsite.greatergood.com/clickToGive/trs/petition/AfricanElephants
right2dave
May 30, 2013 8:23 PM CDT
Gang tat??