Facts about Protoavis, an extinct prehistoric animal

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Dinosaur Jungle   >   Other Prehistoric Animals   >   Protoavis

Protoavis



Protoavis texensis

Scientific Classification
 
Disputed
Some scientists dispute this classification
 
  Kingdom Animalia
  Phylum Chordata
  Class Aves
  Order Protoaviformes
  Family Protoavidae
  Genus Protoavis
Protoavis is arguably a small bird that lived in what is today Texas, USA, during the late Triassic period, between about 225 and 213 million years ago.

The animal is known from a single specimen, initially described by Sankar Chatterjee. Chatterjee's description is of a bird, with a more bird-like skeletal structure than Archaeopteryx, with teeth on the tips of its jaws, and eyes at the front of its skull. It is about 14 inches (35 centimeters) tall, and is usually reconstructed with feathers (although the presence of feathers is speculation, as no evidence of them has yet been found). The remarkable thing about Chatterjee's description, is it seems to be of a more advanced bird than Archaeopteryx, that lived about 70 million years before Archaeopteryx.

Other scientists however dispute Chatterjee's analysis. They believe that Protoavis is actually a mix of bones from several animals ("chimeric") that have been put together incorrectly. These scientists argue for this conclusion based principally on the fact that the Protoavis bones were found in a jumbled mass of disarticulated fossil bones, that were probably deposited during a flash flood. Additionally, no other birds are known to have lived in the Americas until the Cretaceous period.

When Protoavis was first discovered, some scientists used it to argue against the fact that birds evolved from dinosaurs (they argued that birds evolved from dinosaur relatives or ancestors). Chatterjee himself however argued that Protoavis supported a dinosaur-bird evolutionary link, and in any case, regardless of the status of Protoavis, numerous other fossils have since been found which provide strong evidence for a dinosaur-bird link.

Protoavis Timeline:



Protoavis may have been a small bird that lived between 225 and 210 million years ago

Protoavis may have been a small bird that lived between 225 and 210 million years ago


Related Information & Resources


See Also

Protoavis Books


Here are some books from Amazon.com:

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Fossil Forensics: Separating Fact from Fantasy in Paleontology
By Jerry Bergman

Bartlett Publishing
Paperback (358 pages)

Fossil Forensics: Separating Fact from Fantasy in Paleontology
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Product Description:

There is a difference between fact and speculation. Unfortunately, scientists and science media often fail to make the distinction everywhere they should. This is especially true within paleontology. Paleontologists often develop theories which, while interesting or even exciting, lack supporting evidence, or are even flat out contradicted by available evidence.

Fossil Forensics: Separating Fact from Fantasy in Paleontology brings you face to face with fossils of all kinds and from every layer of the fossil record. Photographs, diagrams, illustrations, and in-depth descriptions help you get acquainted with not only the fossils but also the organisms behind them and how they affect our understanding of natural history. 

In Fossil Forensics, biology professor Dr. Jerry Bergman examines many claims that have been made about fossil discoveries to determine what the rock record does and does not show about organisms, their ancestry, and their evolution. In this book, Dr. Bergman examines claims about general features of fossils such as teeth and feathers as well as claims about the origins and lineages of groups of all kinds, including whales, bats, birds, and insects.

 

The Search for the Origin of Birds (Prehistoric Life)
By Lawrence M. Witmer

Franklin Watts
Library Binding (63 pages)

The Search for the Origin of Birds (Prehistoric Life)
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Product Description:
Discusses the facts and clues used to formulate the various theories of the origin of birds
The Rise of Birds: 225 Million Years of Evolution
By Sankar Chatterjee

imusti
Hardcover (392 pages)

The Rise of Birds: 225 Million Years of Evolution
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  • Johns Hopkins University Press
Product Description:

A small set of fossilized bones discovered almost thirty years ago led paleontologist Sankar Chatterjee on a lifelong quest to understand their place in our understanding of the history of life. They were clearly the bones of something unusual, a bird-like creature that lived long, long ago in the age of dinosaurs. He called it Protoavis, and the animal that owned these bones quickly became a contender for the title of "oldest known bird." In 1997, Chatterjee published his findings in the first edition of The Rise of Birds.

Since then Chatterjee and his colleagues have searched the world for more transitional bird fossils. And they have found them. This second edition of The Rise of Birds brings together a treasure trove of fossils that tell us far more about the evolution of birds than we once dreamed possible.

With no blind allegiance to what he once thought he knew, Chatterjee devours the new evidence and lays out the most compelling version of the birth and evolution of the avian form ever attempted. He takes us from Texas to Spain, China, Mongolia, Madagascar, Australia, Antarctica, and Argentina. He shows how, in the "Cretaceous Pompeii" of China, he was able to reconstruct the origin and evolution of flight of early birds from the feathered dinosaurs that lay among thousands of other amazing fossils.

Chatterjee takes us to where long-hidden bird fossils dwell. His compelling, occasionally controversial, revelations―accompanied by spectacular illustrations―are a must-read for anyone with a serious interest in the evolution of "the feathered dinosaurs," from vertebrate paleontologists and ornithologists to naturalists and birders.

First Bird
Released: 2016-02-02
Kindle Edition (49 pages)

First Bird
 
Product Description:
It is a journey to the prehistoric past, to Triassic Texas at the dawn of the dinosaurs. It is the story of First Bird or Protoavis. Being orphaned at her very beginning, she faces perilous challenges in a primeval Earth to finally find a place she can call home and finds her mate.


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