Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Xu Xing: Unearthing how dinosaurs became birds

Beipiaosaurus inexpectus
One of the first feathered dinosaurs ever uncovered, Beipiaosaurus was unearthed in 1997 by Xu Xing and colleagues near the city of Beipaio in Liaoning province, China. This “unexpected” find gave support to the theory that feathers were widespread in dinosaurs and that dinosaurs were the ancestors of modern birds.

Gallery: Finding feathered fossils


Xu Xing's dinosaur finds range from a pint-sized creature with four wings to the feathered ancestor of Tyrannosaurus rex. Between them, they have cemented the evolutionary link between dinosaurs and birds. He talks to Phil McKenna about his work


How did you become interested in dinosaurs?

I grew up in a remote region in Xinjiang province. I didn't even know what a dinosaur was when I was young, not even when I was in high school. I was interested in physics, but when I got into Beijing University I was assigned to study palaeontology. I was later admitted as a graduate student to the Chinese Academy of Sciences to continue studying palaeontology. I was only interested because it meant I could stay in Beijing and didn't have to go back to Xinjiang, but early in my career I got to study some very interesting fossils. Now it's hard to imagine how I could live without dinosaurs.

Full article here

Guanlong or "crowned dragon" is the earliest known ancestor of the tyrant lizard king, Tyrannosaurus rex, and gets its name for the prominent nasal crest that was probably used for sexual display.

This feathered beast lived 160 million years ago in what is now the Gobi desert of Xinjiang province.

Guanlong’s existence roughly 10 million years before Archaeopteryx, the first known bird, provides evidence that feathers may have developed in dinosaurs before birds.

Posted via email from Garth's posterous


Anonymous said...

What a great resource!

Garth Godsman said...

Thank you,