Bird Fossil Found, Dating Back to the Dinosaur Era
Some scientists believe the supposed “proto-feathers” are really just collagen fibers

Bird Fossil Found, Dating Back to the Dinosaur Era


Dubbed “the dawn of the Confucius bird,” a new bird fossil discovered in China is said to be from the time of the dinosaurs but is remarkably well preserved.

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Officially named Eoconfuciusornis zhengi—as is translated above—the bird fossil was discovered outside of Beijing along a forested lakeside two years ago. Now, a team of scientists publishing in the journal Science in China describe the find.

Beijing Institute professor Zhang Fucheng, lead author on the study, explained, “Eoconfuciusornis was extraordinarily well preserved for the fossil to have contained such depth of detail.” According to the study, E. zhengi likely died, fell to the bottom of a lake, and “was quickly covered in sediment”—131 million years ago.

Yet despite its age, National Geographic News reports that “[t]he specimen’s fully developed, modern-looking wings and symmetrically balanced tail feathers were etched into the stone in curved lines of black and brown.” (See the photo on National Geographic’s website.)

Thus, according to these scientists, this basically modern bird came shortly (on the evolutionary timescale) after Archaeopteryx—the notorious dino-to-bird “transitional form”—yet came before the likes of Microraptor gui, a supposed feathered dinosaur that also has been propped up as an example of the dino-to-bird transition.

Interestingly, the news of this modern bird from deep in the fossil record has not been widely reported, and the few evolutionists who have commented on it have generically said that it, e.g., “adds to the remarkable diversity of the species” (says Xing Xu of the Chinese paleontology institute, who discovered M. gui). For now, we have to wonder if that silence and those generic responses are a tacit acknowledgment that this “modern” bird shouldn’t have shown up so “early” in the fossil record.

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