With the discovery of a very old bird
The first detailed look at the ancestor of modern birds - a grebe-like waterbird that would look normal even today - was shown off Thursday by scientists who discovered fossil remains in a remote lake bed in China.
"A world lost for more than 100 million years was being revealed to us," as layers of mud were peeled back like the pages of a book, said Hai-lu You of the Chinese Academy of Geological Sciences.
What they found is being called the missing link on the evolution of birds, a creature that lived in northwest China and is the earliest example of modern birds that populate the planet today.
Before their discovery, reported in Friday's issue of the journal Science, the only evidence for this creature - Gansus yumenensis - was a single, partial leg discovered in the 1980s.
Now researchers have dozens of nearly complete fossils of Gansus, said a beaming 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," Lamanna said.
Previously there was a gap between ancient and modern species of birds, and "Gansus fits perfectly into this gap," added Jerald D. Harris of Dixie State College in Utah.
Click the link for a reconstruction of the animal, once again palaeontology leads the way in unraveling the history of evolution and I am sensing a profound need to learn Standard Mandarin with it's insanely difficult nuances such as tone.