For over 150 years, Archaeopteryx has been almost universally assumed to be a primitive bird. However, earlier this year, an intriguing dinosaur fossil from China challenged this entrenched view: Xiatongia, a Velociraptor-like dinosaur, showed many similarities to Archaeopteryx. Archaeopteryx thus appeared to be most closely related to certain dinosaurs, not to birds. Now, sophisticated methods for inferring evolutionary trees borrowed from genetics, applied to the same anatomical data, reunite Archaeopteryx with birds. The new study by Michael Lee from ACEBB and Trevor Worthy from UNSW is published in Biology Letters and covered as a Research Highlight in Nature.
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