A feathered dinosaur fossilized some 160 million years ago in a shale slab found in China, may be the earliest known relative of birds. The fossil of the Aurornis xui contains feather impressions and could give clues about how birds emerged from dinosaurs as well as the origins of powered flight. "The beginnings of the bird line is all about fine-tuning parts of their anatomy -- of their wings, of their hips, of their chest muscles and shoulder girdles, and so on -- to make them flight-ready," said Paul Barrett of the Natural History Museum in London.

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