A new study of ancient fossils suggests that birds are ancient enough that dinosaurs may have evolved from them. In fact, ancient raptors, usually classified as dinosaurs, may actually have been flightless birds.
The study, published in PNAS this week, looks at the fossil of a creature called the microraptor, which had four feathery legs that might have served as glider wings. The researchers propose that this raptor is possibly best classified as a bird, and that its progeny evolved into dinosaurs.
According to Science Daily:
"We're finally breaking out of the conventional wisdom of the last 20 years, which insisted that birds evolved from dinosaurs and that the debate is all over and done with," [zoologist John] Ruben said. "This issue isn't resolved at all. There are just too many inconsistencies with the idea that birds had dinosaur ancestors, and this newest study adds to that."
. . . Birds may have had an ancient common ancestor with dinosaurs, but they evolved separately on their own path, and after millions of years of separate evolution birds also gave rise to the raptors. Small animals such as velociraptor that have generally been thought to be dinosaurs are more likely flightless birds, he said.
"Raptors look quite a bit like dinosaurs but they have much more in common with birds than they do with other theropod dinosaurs such as Tyrannosaurus," Ruben said. "We think the evidence is finally showing that these animals which are usually considered dinosaurs were actually descended from birds, not the other way around."
via Science Daily
Image via Geekologie (Thanks, Meredith!)