Reference work entry
Bird fossil is a collective term for fossils of all Aves. Bird fossils were discovered only a few decades ago in China. The recent discovery of Sinosauropteryx fossils in western Liaoning Province shows that Sinosauropteryx is the ancestor of small theropods and strongly supports the hypothesis that birds evolved from small theropods. These findings further facilitate the division of the evolution of primitive Protoavis into four phases: Sinosauropteryx phase, Archaeopteryx phase, Confuciusornis phase, and Euornthes phase. Fossils representative of all four phases have been found in western Liaoning Province, and these findings have attracted the world’s attention. To date, more than 250 pieces of bird fossils have been unearthed in Chaoyang National Geopark in Liaoning Province. Associated with these fossils, three subclasses, 11 genera and 14 species have been identified by experts (Fig. 17).
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