Chinese Fossil May Link Birds and Dinosaurs

The fossil of a bird-like dinosaur has been discovered in China's Liaoning province, and researchers believe it may point to a missing evolutionary link between birds and dinosaurs. The creature, named Anchiornis huxleyi, roamed the earth some 160 million years ago; the fossil's discoverers postulate that "long feathers cover the arms and tail, but also the feet, suggesting that a four-winged stage may have existed in the transition to birds."

The transition from dinosaurs to birds is still poorly understood because of the lack of well-preserved fossils, and many scientists say bird-like dinosaurs appear too late in the fossil record to be the true ancestors of birds.

"This finding suggests that birds are likely to be descended from a kind of small-sized four-winged dinosaur about 160 million years ago," Xu said. "It is a link between more typical theropods (dinosaurs which moved around with two rear limbs) and birds. It lived around a time period ... that we expected for birds' ancestor."

For more information, read the full Reuters story.