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Still Waters

Fossilised lungs of 120 million-year-old bird

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Still Waters

It is extremely rare that soft tissues survive millions of years the way bones and shells do, so this new discovery is a doozy: palaeontologists have discovered what they think are the fossilised lungs of an ancient bird that lived 120 million years ago, in the Early Cretaceous.

It's a find that could help us understand not just the anatomy of ancient birds, but how those birds evolved over time to become the animals we know today.

The bird itself was a starling-sized Archaeorhynchus spathula, and in itself is a rarity. It's only the fifth ever speciman reported of this particular bird, and it's an ancient member of the Ornithuromorpha lineage that leads to modern birds.

But this specimen also stands out among those five other that have been found.


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