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New Fossils from China Suggest Aquatic Origins for Birds, Science Reports
If it flapped its wings, dove like a duck, and lived in China about 110 million years ago, it must be Gansus yumenensis, one of the oldest members of the lineage leading to modern birds. Spectacular new fossil specimens of the loon-like ancient bird, reported in the 16 June 2006 issue of the journal Science, help fill in the avian family tree and suggest that today's birds may have gotten their start in aquatic environments.
The five well-preserved fossils of Gansus described in Science include nearly complete skeletons consisting of three-dimensional, mostly uncrushed bones. Several of the specimens are so exquisitely preserved that the carbonized remains of feathers and even webbing in the foot can be seen clearly.
While an afternoon press briefing presented the research to reporters, authors Hai-Lu You, Matthew Lamanna, and Jared Harris addressed a packed AAAS auditorium in the evening.
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