New species of dinosaur-era bird discovered

Paleontologists in China have found a new species of fossil bird that they say reveals a pivotal point in the evolution of flight, when birds had lost the long bony tail seen in dinosaurs, but before they had developed the fan of feathers on a shortened tail seen in flying birds today.

The species, dating back 127m years, which they have named Jinguofortis perplexus, retains other features of its ancestors, such as claws on the fingers of its wings, a jaw with tiny teeth rather than a beak, and a fused shoulder girdle. That last trait is apparently poorly adapted to flight, hence the name perplexus.

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