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Fujianvenator

In the Fujian Province of southeastern China, an exceptional discovery was made, revealing an unearthed fossil named Fujianvenator, a species providing valuable insights into the evolutionary origins of birds.

This topic of “Fujianvenator” is important from the perspective of the UPSC IAS Examination, which falls under General Studies Portion.

Description of Fujianvenator

Naming

The discovered dinosaur was specifically termed Fujianvenator prodigiosus.

Time Frame

This creature roamed the Earth during the Jurassic Period.

Distinctive Features

  • Size and Resemblance: Fujianvenator was pheasant-sized and bore a striking bird-like appearance.
  • Limbs:
    • Possessed elongated legs and arms, enhancing its resemblance to birds.
    • The arms of the Fujianvenator were strikingly similar to bird wings. However, an exception was noted: they had three claws on their fingers.
  • Anatomical Observations: The anatomy of Fujianvenator hinted at a lifestyle resembling modern wading birds, suggesting it might have been a fast runner.
  • Unique Bone Dimensions:
    • Its tibia (lower leg bone) was remarkably twice the length of its femur (thigh bone).
    • The dinosaur also had a long bony tail structure.

Evolutionary Importance

  • Bird Origin: Fujianvenator represents a crucial stage in the origin of birds. There was a significant evolutionary event where feathered two-legged dinosaurs, known as theropods, evolved into birds. This event culminated late in the Jurassic period with the emergence of the earliest known bird, the Archaeopteryx, which originated around 150 million years ago in Germany.
  • Group Classification: The Fujianvenator belongs to the Avialans, a group which includes all birds and their closest non-avian dinosaur relatives.
  • Bird Evolutionary History: The early evolutionary history of birds is somewhat clouded, primarily due to a lack of fossil evidence. Following the appearance of Archaeopteryx, there is a gap of nearly 20 million years before the next bird fossils are documented.
  • Birds and Extinction: An asteroid impact around 66 million years ago led to the extinction of many species. Interestingly, while the non-avian dinosaurs didn’t survive this catastrophic event, birds did, ensuring their continued existence till today.

Discovery Details

  • Location: Fujianvenator was discovered in the Fujian Province, situated in southeastern China.
  • Age: The fossil is estimated to be from 148 to 150 million years ago.

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