Feathered fossil still stirs debate

6:04pm, April 21, 2003

Pity poor little Caudipteryx, an animal that undoubtedly would be suffering an identity crisis if it were still around.

Researchers who first described the 120-million-year-old fossils of the turkey-size species in 1998 claimed the animal's ancestors were meat-eating dinosaurs (SN: 6/27/98, p. 404: Even though Caudipteryx obviously had feathers on its short tail and forelimbs, it lacked many other typical features of birds. Other scientists vehemently argued that the species was neither a dinosaur nor a link between dinosaurs and birds. Instead, they claimed, it was a flightless descendent of more-ancient birds.

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