The world's first-known venom-fanged bird has been discovered in ancient fossils dug up in northeast China, scientists at the University of Kansas announced today.
Sinornithosaurus (Chinese-bird-lizard), was a turkey-sized creature that had fierce-looking long and grooved and venomous fangs. It also probably had flight feathers on the back legs that made it a four-winged gliding predator.
This is the first report of venom in the lineage that leads to modern birds, scientists say.
Larry Martin, a KU scientist who helped discover and describe it, says the creature, as possibly the world's first-known venomous bird, is going to shake up all the known science about bird history.
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While he and the other three scientists involved are careful to say in their scientific paper that Sino is a "bird-like creature," and a "raptor closely related to birds," Martin goes farther. "I have a habit of deciding that if it looks like a bird and quacks like a bird, it's a bird," Martin said. "This is a bird."
The fangs made this creature look almost like a saber-tooth, he said.
For more on this story see Kansas.com and Tuesday's Eagle.