The dinosaurs disappeared from the Earth millions of years ago. Some speculate though that not all of them died, and that they have evolved into something more familiar today. Did dinosaurs evolve into birds? A recent discovery suggests so.
The clue might be from a dinosaur fossil that was almost never found. The dinosaur is a bird-like species and the fossil was found at a building site in southern China. It has been preserved very well, with most of its parts almost intact.
The dinosaur comes from a family of feathered dinosaurs. It has been named Tongtianlong limosus. It possibly lived around 72 to 66 million years ago. The dinosaur had walked with its two legs and had a sharp beak, and just like birds today are covered with something like feathers.
One feature that makes it unique is its skull. Its skull had bony crests which most likely served as a way to display itself, according to the University of Edinburgh's site. The bony crest might have also served as a way to warn off rivals. One thing that has been noted about the species was that it was growing in population.
As the species continued to grow in number, it also began to evolve. This occurred 15 million years before the dinosaurs became extinct. It has been speculated that the dinosaur was one of the last to have experienced this evolution before dinosaurs have disappeared, as Science Daily reports.
The dinosaur has been found just as excavation on the site in Ganzhou, China was being done. Paleontologist Stephen Brusatte from the University of Edinburgh said that the specimen was nearly lost as the workers on the site were using dynamite for excavation. The site was being prepared to build a new school there.
Dr. Brusatte also noted that the dinosaur has been well preserved and is one of the best examples of a dinosaur that was flourishing before the extinction. The study has been done by the University of Edinburgh together with the Institute of Geology and the Chinese Academy of Geological Sciences. The Dongyang Museum in China also helped in the collaboration.
The study might answer the question: did dinosaurs evolve into birds? The recent discovery suggests so, as well as earlier discoveries. Earlier another discovery has been made of a new blind fish species in Kurdistan.