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Chinese scientists discover that primitive birds could "deform" with their environment

By Zhang Xiaoyu (People's Daily Online)    17:20, October 23, 2018

Fossil and reconstruction of Jinguofortis perplexus (provided by the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences)

Recently, the research team of theInstitute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology under the Chinese Academy of Sciences discovered that the primitive bird Jinguofortis perplexus had many unique morphological characteristics. Studies revealed a unique phenomenon in the evolution of ancient birds - the plasticity of development.

Today, birds that are capable of flying have a scapula and coracoid that are usually separate from one other. However, the two bones of Confuciusornis, known as the earliest bird with a cutin beak, are connected. This feature confused scientists until Jinguofortis perplexus was discovered.

The team analyzed the bone structure of primitive birds and found that the connection of scapula and coracoid affects only these two species, and it's thought that this is due to their relatively fast growth rate. Scientists speculate that the environmental stresses forced Confuciusornis and Jinguofortis perplexus to shorten the time required to reach adulthood, to increase their chances of survival. The accelerated osteogenetic process caused the scapula and coracoid to connect.

Wang Min, a researcher at the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, said: "The greatest significance of Jinguofortis perplexus is that it indicates how important developmental plasticity is during the early evolution of birds or other creatures.”

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Shi Xi, Hongyu)

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