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Science. 1992 Feb 14;255(5046):845-8.

Early evolution of avian flight and perching: new evidence from the lower cretaceous of china.


Fossil bird skeletons discovered in Lower Cretaceous lake deposits in China shed new light on the early evolution of avian flight and perching. The 135 million-year-old sparrow-sized skeletons represent a new avian, Sinornis santensis, n. gen. n. sp., that preserves striking primitive features such as a flexible manus with unguals, a footed pubis, and stomach ribs (gastralia). In contrast to Archaeoperyx, however, Sinornis exhibits advanced features such as a broad sternum, wing-folding mechanism, pygostyle, and large fully reversed hallux. Modern avian flight function and perching capability, therefore, must have evolved in small-bodied birds in inland habitats not long after Archaeopteryx.

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