View Full Version : Ancestor of modern birds believed found

06-15-2006, 06:44 PM

WASHINGTON - The first detailed look at the ancestor of modern birds — a grebe-like waterbird that would look normal even today — was shown off Thursday by scientists who discovered fossil remains in a remote lake bed in China.

"A world lost for more than 100 million years was being revealed to us," as layers of mud were peeled back like the pages of a book, said Hai-lu You of the Chinese Academy of Geological Sciences.

What they found is being called the missing link on the evolution of birds, a creature that lived in northwest China and is the earliest example of modern birds that populate the planet today.

Before their discovery, reported in Friday's issue of the journal Science, the only evidence for this creature — Gansus yumenensis — was a single, partial leg discovered in the 1980s.

Now researchers have dozens of nearly complete fossils of Gansus, said a beaming Matt Lamanna of the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh.

"Most of the ancestors of birds from the age of dinosaurs are members of groups that died out and left no modern descendants. But Gansus led to modern birds, so it's a link between primitive birds and those we see today," Lamanna said.

Previously there was a gap between ancient and modern species of birds, and "Gansus fits perfectly into this gap," added Jerald D. Harris of Dixie State College in Utah.

It was about the size of a modern pigeon, but similar to loons or diving ducks, the researchers said. One of the fossils even has skin preserved between the toes, showing that it had webbed feet.

"We were lucky far beyond our expectations" in finding these fossils, added You.

Slowly but surely, over the last 150 years or so the empty spaces in the big puzzle continue to fill in.

06-15-2006, 06:53 PM
This is nothing more than God testing our faith.

06-15-2006, 06:57 PM
This is nothing more than God testing our faith.

:lol: Priceless.

06-16-2006, 12:56 AM

06-16-2006, 01:23 AM
The work of the devil.