Protoavis (meaning "first bird") is a problematictaxon of archosaurian whose fossils have been recovered from Late TriassicNorianstage deposits near Post, Texas. Much controversy remains over the animal, with many different interpretations of what Protoavis actually is existing. When it was first described, the fossils were ascribed to a primitive bird which, if the identification is valid, would push back avian origins some 60-75 million years. The original describer of Protoavis texensis, Sankar Chatterjee of Texas Tech University, interpreted the type specimen to have come from a single animal, specifically a 35 cm tall bird that lived in what is now Texas, USA, between 225 and 210 million years ago. Though it existed far earlier than Archaeopteryx, its skeletal structure is allegedly more bird-like. However, this description of Protoavis assumes that Protoavis has been correctly interpreted as a bird. Almost all paleontologists doubt that Protoavis is a bird, or that all remains assigned to it even come from a single species, because of the circumstances of its discovery and unconvincing avian synapomorphies in its fragmentary material. (Read more...)
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