Dinosaur birds

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The Independent Online
BIRDS are living dinosaurs with feathers, according to scientists who believe they have resolved one of the longest debates in evolution.

Fossils found in China show that feathers first sprouted from dinosaurs, although they were not used for flying.

Palaeontologists have argued about the origin of birds ever since the first fossil of Archaeopteryx, a reptile-like bird, was discovered in 1861.

Fossils of two long-extinct species of meat-eating dinosaurs have confirmed that birds must have evolved from this group of therapod dinosaurs, said Dr Philip Currie, of the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Drumheller, Alberta, Canada, who led the research team.

``It is the first time we have a clear dinosaur skeleton which has feathers. It is the final piece in the jigsaw which shows that birds came from dinosaurs," Dr Currie said.

Scientists have a collection of six dinosaurs from China that have feathers or bird-like features.