Protoavis is arguably a small bird that lived in what is today
during the late
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
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
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
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
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