Famed fossil 'Archaeopteryx' put back into bird category.
Discovered in 1861 in Germany, Archaeopteryx was widely considered as the earliest known bird, but Chinese scientists cast doubt about its status two years ago, according to Fox News.
They proposed yanking the prehistoric creature off the "bird" branch of the evolutionary family tree and moving it onto a closely related lineage of birdlike dinosaurs.
But the team led by the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences argued that Archaeopteryx should remain in 'bird' category following their new discoveries.
The famed fossil possessed part-bird, part-reptile traits. It sported broad wings and feathers like a bird, but it also had three-fingered claws, sharp teeth and a long bony tail similar to a dinosaur.
Fossil discoveries of feathered dinosaurs in northeastern China over the past two decades have challenged Archaeopteryx's place in bird evolution.
The latest evidence suggesting Archaeopteryx had more in common with birds than dinosaurs comes from the discovery of an intact, well-preserved skeleton of a previously unknown dinosaur dubbed Aurornis xui, the publication reported.
It lived during the middle to late Jurassic era in China's Liaoning province where many early birds and feathered dinosaurs roamed.
Belgian researcher Pascal Godefroit and his team compared the anatomy of the newly discovered dinosaur fossil to a variety of birds and dinosaurs to determine their relationship.
Their analysis classifies Archaeopteryx back into the bird category.
The research was published in Thursday's issue of the journal Nature. ( ANI )
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