BEIJING, Aug. 5 (Xinhuanet) -- For a long time from the discovery of Archaeopteryx, scientists never cease to argue for its spatial abilities. The common view now is that it probably could fly, but not well. It is an unusual dinosaur -- or a bird.
X-Rays of skull
cavity predict its spatial abilities different from reptiles', Washington Post
Archaeopteryx -- the most famous fossils ever found, a crow-size
creature with big legs, a bony tail, a mouthful of teeth and feathers
-- discovered only two years after publication of Charles Darwin's "Origin
of Species". An instant sensation was it as the evidence of evolution -- a
bird, yes, but only just.
In a study released today, a multinational team of experts that included
Milner presented new evidence that bolstered the case that the creature was a
capable flier. Archaeopteryx's tiny brain -- about the size of a little-finger
joint -- has much more in common with those of modern birds than it does with
those of the reptiles that were its forebears, according to the report of
Now, scientists had access to the inside of the fossil skull by using
modern X-ray scanning techniques. They found that archaeopteryx's brain
emphasized vision and a highly developed spatial sense and had the tools to
coordinate these attributes in a sophisticated way.
Archaeopteryx has always been regarded as the textbook example of the
However, the kontty problem is how to relates archaeopteryx, 147 million
years old, to more recently discovered -- and much more recent -- feathered
dinosaurs regarded by many paleontologists as the precursors of modern birds.
Until the advent of modern X-ray techniques, it was impossible to assess
archaeopteryx's sensory abilities without cutting into the skull -- unthinkable
for such a priceless artifact. But the new study opened a non-destructive window
into its brain. Enditem