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Dino Had the Right Stuff

When the fossilized remains of a 147-million-year-old creature were pulled out of German limestone mine in 1861, scientists hailed them as a missing link between birds and dinosaurs. Archaeopteryx was a small, meat-eating animal with dinosaur-like teeth and clawed hands, but it had the feathered wings of a bird. A fight over whether the creature could fly has raged ever since.

Now, a new paper in Nature may have ended the argument. Researchers with London's Natural History Museum and the University of Texas at Austin used CT scans of the fossil to reconstruct the anatomy of its brain. They report its brain closely resembled that of modern-day sparrows and was well developed for flight. NPR's John Nielsen reports.

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John Nielsen
John Nielsen covers environmental issues for NPR. His reports air regularly on NPR's award-winning news magazines, All Things Considered, Morning Edition and Weekend Edition. He also prepares documentaries for the NPR/National Geographic Radio Expeditions series, which is heard regularly on Morning Edition. Nielsen also occasionally serves as the substitute host for several NPR News programs.