Laser technique sheds light on pivotal Chinese feathered dinosaur

By Will Dunham WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A technique using high-powered lasers to reveal hidden soft tissue alongside bones in fossils is giving scientists insight into one of the major evolutionary transitions in the history of life: small feathered dinosaurs taking flight as birds. Scientists said on Tuesday they used the method on fossils of the chicken-sized, feathered, bird-like dinosaur Anchiornis that lived in China about 160 million years ago, finding it possessed drumstick-shaped legs, arms similar to the wings of some modern gliding and soaring birds, and a long, slender tail. If a person had a chance to see Anchiornis alive, the reaction might be, “That’s a weird-looking bird,” said University of Hong Kong paleontologist Michael Pittman, who helped lead the study published in the journal Nature Communications.

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