Dinosaurs But Not As We Know Them At The Natural History Museum

By David Prudames | 18 July 2002
'Fuzzy raptor' discovered in China in 2001

Left: 'Fuzzy raptor' discovered in China in 2001.

Next time you go outside to feed the birds take care because that might just be a Tyrannosaurus Rex nibbling your dry bread.

Dino-Birds: The Feathered Dinosaurs of China, at the Natural History Museum until May 5, 2003, offers thought-provoking evidence to support the theory that birds evolved from meat-eating dinosaurs.

With a collection of recently discovered fossils from China this is the first time a European audience has had the chance to see some of the astonishing finds.

how 'Fuzzy raptor' the feathered Dromaeosaur may have looked

Right: how 'Fuzzy raptor' the feathered Dromaeosaur may have looked.

As anyone with the slightest grasp of natural biology can appreciate, simple rules separate species - fish have gills, mammals have hair and birds have feathers - the dino-birds turn such rules on their heads.

There are twelve dino-birds on loan from The Geological Museum of China including the 124-million year-old 'Fuzzy raptor' whose perfectly preserved soft, downy fossilised feathers finally solve one of nature's great mysteries.

From the 1861 discovery of the Archaeopteryx to the astonishing finds on farms and a quarry in the Liaoning Province of China, Dino-Birds pieces together the evidence that originally prompted and now supports palaeontologists' 140-year long argument.

a quarry in Liaoning Province, China where over the last ten years the pieces of the dino-bird puzzle have been found

Left: a quarry in Liaoning Province, China where over the last ten years the pieces of the dino-bird puzzle have been found.

"The exhibition is a unique opportunity to see some of the most significant and recent dinosaur finds that answer a crucial evolutionary question," said Dr Angela Milner, Associate Keeper of Palaeontology at the Natural History Museum.

"The creatures being discovered in Liaoning Province died very quickly after being covered in volcanic dust. The circumstances there are so unique that the actual feathers themselves are preserved."

Dr Milner explained how "these finds have actually proved the predictions" that descendants of two-footed predatory dinosaurs such as the Velociraptor developed feathers for insulation, making them the ancestors of modern birds: "This confirms absolutely that is where birds evolved from."

the fossils being cleaned in the Museum's Palaeontology Conservation Unit

Right: the fossils being cleaned in the Museum's Palaeontology Conservation Unit.

Dinosaurs first wandered the earth around 228 million years ago in the late Triassic Period, with the dino-bird fossils dating from 124 million years ago and the early Cretaceous Period.

Non-avian dinosaurs vanished 65 million years before the present day and as far as we know the avians are still with us.

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