A new analysis of Archaeopteryx, the earliest known birdlike animal, shows it had feet like dinosaurs — a finding that adds weight to the belief that the birds frequenting backyard feeders today are descendants of mighty ancient carnivores.
While not all scientists agree, many consider Archaeopteryx the first bird, since it had wings and was the first fossil found with feathers.
Details have been lacking on the animals, however, since only a few fossil specimens have been found. The new one, reported in Friday's issue of the journal Science, is the 10th known and one of the most complete.
Contrary to what had been thought, the new fossil shows that the first toe was not reversed in Archaeopteryx, as is the case on current birds, according to a team led by Gerald Mayr of Research Institute Schenkenberg in Frankfurt, Germany.
December 3, 2005
Early Birds Had Dinosaur Feet
From the AP: