Archaeopteryx is one of the most famous fossils ever found, a crow-size creature with big legs, a bony tail, a mouthful of teeth -- and feathers. Discovered only two years after publication of Charles Darwin's "Origin of Species," it became an instant sensation as the epitome of evolution -- a bird, yes, but only just.

For decades, scientists studied the aerodynamics of archaeopteryx to determine whether it could fly. The consensus was that it probably could, but not well: "It is an unusual animal," said paleontologist Angela Milner of London's Natural History Museum. "It's like a dinosaur skeleton with feathers."

But in a study released today, a multinational team of experts that included Milner presented new evidence that bolstered the case that the creature was a capable flier. Archaeopteryx's tiny brain -- about the size of a little-finger joint -- has much more in common with those of modern birds than it does with those of the reptiles that were its forebears.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A40945-2004Aug4.html


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