WASHINGTON: An especially well-preserved specimen of Archaeopteryx shows the first known bird had feet like a dinosaur made not for perching but for running on the ground.
The first toe on the fossil turns inward, similar to a human thumb and most like the hunting dinosaurs known as deinonychosaurs notably the Velociraptor with its long claw for disembowelling prey.
Gerald Mayr of the Forschungsinstitut Senckenberg in Frankfurt, Germany, and colleagues at the Wyoming Dinosaur Centre in Thermopolis, say their findings strengthen theories that birds descended directly from dinosaurs.
The 150 million-year-old fossil found in Germany's Bavaria region, suggests the magpie-sized creature could hyperextend its second toe in a dinosaur-like way, the researchers report in latest issue of Science.
"By all measures, it is a treasure," said Peter Dodson, researcher of the University of Pennsylvania.
The feathered fossils were long believed to be representative of the first birds and this one now links Archaeopteryx to dinosaurs.
"Contrary to virtually all existing reconstructions of Archaeopteryx, the new specimen shows that the first toe was not fully reversed as in extant birds," the researchers wrote.
Source: China Daily