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May 30 2013

Early bird beat Archaeopteryx to worm by 10m years


A prehistoric beast the size of a pheasant has become a contender for the title of oldest bird to stalk the Earth.

The small, feathered "Dawn" bird lived around 160m years ago, about 10m years before Archaeopteryx, which holds the official title of the earliest bird known to science.

The new species, which scientists have named Aurornis xui, had claws and a long tail, with front and hind legs similar to those of Archaeopteryx, but some features of its bones were more primitive. It measured 50cm from its beak to the tip of its tail.

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