We already know that, before birds’ evolution, some species of dinosaurs had their body covered with feathers. However, there still continues to be many discussions over whether ancient birds like Archaeopteryx might have been really capable to fly.
A new research published in American scientific journals goes even further in responding to that question, with the finding of recent bird fossils, over 100 million year old, in Spain. The extremely well preserved bones discovered in limestone from the Cretaceous era, have a complex structure of muscle tissues and bones that controlled each feather on the wings of this prehistoric bird. These are the earliest fossils of a bird with ligaments connected directly to its feathers.
This might support the idea that at least a part of these ancient birds could fly in a similar way to today’s birds. The paleontologists have noticed physiological coordination between the muscular system in the newly found fossils. These evolutionary characteristics that are seen in modem birds are a good indicator that some prehistoric birds were able of streamlined flight, just like the majority of living birds.
Experts who discovered and studied the fossils said that they were amazed of how the ancient bird looked very similar to creatures that we can find in forests. It is extremely interesting that, despite having a skeleton quite different from its modern relatives, this primitive bird shows stunning resemblances in its smooth structure, according to the scientists.
The particular features of this ancient animal are considered to have transformed gradually about 100 million years ago. Important characteristics for flight, like light feathers and long wings, have been developed over many millions of years. Since the 90’s, dozens, if not hundreds, of species of dinosaurs with feathered-bodies have been found in many Chinese regions. These discoveries help solidifying the idea that modern birds evolved from smaller species of dinosaurs.
While these recent finds support the theory that primitive birds could fly, it continues to be rather unclear if these creatures flew very close to the ground or went over the tall trees in prehistoric forests. The new fossils offer experts an original glance into the structure of the wings of primitive birds that lived near some of the biggest dinosaurs. Extraordinary discoveries like this one are allowing researchers to analyze the most complex factors of the first steps in birds’ evolution.
Image source: Dinosaurjungle