An Exceptionally Preserved Lower Cretaceous Ecosystem

Nature. 2003 Feb 20;421(6925):807-14. doi: 10.1038/nature01420.


Fieldwork in the Early Cretaceous Jehol Group, northeastern China has revealed a plethora of extraordinarily well-preserved fossils that are shaping some of the most contentious debates in palaeontology and evolutionary biology. These discoveries include feathered theropod dinosaurs and early birds, which provide additional, indisputable support for the dinosaurian ancestry of birds, and much new evidence on the evolution of feathers and flight. Specimens of putative basal angiosperms and primitive mammals are clarifying details of the early radiations of these major clades. Detailed soft-tissue preservation of the organisms from the Jehol Biota is providing palaeobiological insights that would not normally be accessible from the fossil record.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Evolution*
  • Birds / anatomy & histology
  • Birds / classification
  • Birds / physiology
  • China
  • Dinosaurs / anatomy & histology
  • Dinosaurs / classification
  • Dinosaurs / physiology
  • Ecosystem*
  • Fossils*
  • Invertebrates / anatomy & histology
  • Invertebrates / classification
  • Invertebrates / physiology
  • Phylogeny
  • Plants