Waterfowl fossils fill in a big missing link
Dozens of fossils of an ancient loonlike creature that some say is the missing link in bird evolution have been discovered in northwest China.So why is this important you ask?
The remains of 40 of the nearly modern amphibious birds, so well-preserved that some even have their feathers, were found in Gansu province, researchers report in Friday’s issue of the journal Science. Previously only a single leg of the creature, known as Gansus yumenensis, had been found.
“Gansus is a missing link in bird evolution,” said 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,” (Graphic Credit Mark A. Klingler / CMNH)
The fact that Gansus was aquatic indicates that modern birds may have evolved from animals that originated in aquatic environments, the researchers said.Most of the species that survived the Cretaceous - Tertiary extinction lived in or near water.