The finding of a four-winged bird is making top U.S. headlines this evening, as NBC Science News reported this Thursday, March 14, that paleontologists believe they have found this week an ancestor to the contemporary turkey and crow — a four-winged bird with plumed legs as well as the flappers modern avians share today.
Under the headline, “Four-winged bird, first fossils identified”, sources report that new samples from a fossil find have revealed still-preserved feathers of five species of ancient birds with leg feathers that were previously only believed to be linked to flying dinosaurs, such as the Microraptor.
While the sight of a four-winged bird today might certainly be a shock to many birdwatchers, these historic avians were much more common in the past. It is believed that the leg plumage would have been used to help with their aerial balance while flying.
Although none of the fossils that were found were necessarily new, the discovery does mark the first time that feathers — particularly such well-preserved feathers — have been identified so clearly.
"This is what the ancestors of robins and chickens all went through," reported Thomas Holtz, a paleontologist at the University of Maryland. "It tells us that we can look at animals like Microraptor and Anchiornis, and they're still giving us information about modern birds."