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Science. 1998 Mar 20;279(5358):1915-9.

The theropod ancestry of birds: new evidence from the late cretaceous of madagascar

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C. A. Forster and D. W. Krause, Department of Anatomical Sciences, State University of New York at Stony Brook, Stony Brook, NY 11794, USA. S. D. Sampson, Department of Anatomy, New York College of Osteopathic Medicine, Old Westbury, NY 11568,


A partial skeleton of a primitive bird, Rahona ostromi, gen. et sp. nov., has been discovered from the Late Cretaceous of Madagascar. This specimen, although exhibiting avian features such as a reversed hallux and ulnar papillae, retains characteristics that indicate a theropod ancestry, including a pubic foot and hyposphene-hypantra vertebral articulations. Rahona has a robust, hyperextendible second digit on the hind foot that terminates in a sicklelike claw, a unique characteristic of the theropod groups Troodontidae and Dromaeosauridae. A phylogenetic analysis places Rahona with Archaeopteryx, making Rahona one of the most primitive birds yet discovered.

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