For years, scientists have been researching the connection between
birds and dinosaurs. This theory was born with the discovery of
a 150-million-year-old fossilized creature in a swamp in Germany
in the 1860s. Archaeopteryx was possibly the most controversial
prehistoric remain ever dug up. It is the oldest known bird fossil.
Most biologists accept it as conclusive proof that dinosaurs sired
Archaeopteryx had three toes armed with claws and long, strong legs.
Clearly it walked and perched like a bird. Its head had the reptilian
feature of jawbones. Its spine was extended into a bony tail - just
like a reptile's. On both sides of the tail bones, clearly visible,
were the clinching characteristics of birds - feathers.
But not all scientists agree with the birds-from-dinosaurs link.
Alan Feduccia, professor of biology at the University of North Carolina,
is a notable doubter.
He contends that Archaeopteryx wasn't the ancestor of all birds,
but just another of nature's many experiments. He argues that a
huge evolution of birds had been going on before Archaeopteryx,
and that they evolved from four-legged forest reptiles.
Life of Birds