Hoatzin-Living Fossil(Opisthocomus hoazin)

In May 2019, French biologists joined numerous other scientists in associating the hoatzin (scientific name: Opisthocomus hoazin) with the Archaeopteryx, a dinosaur species with strikingly similar characteristics that was believed to have existed from 150 to 125 million years ago and widely considered to be the first bird to exist. Studies of the hoatzin have shown that it has no close relatives. Biologists have been debating its heritage since the species was first described by the German zoologist Statius Muller in 1776. Genetic research published back in 2015 concluded that the hoatzin is the last surviving member of a genus of birds that branched off and evolved separately about 64 million years ago, around the time the dinosaurs became extinct. Such conclusions, along with the fact that hoatzin chicks are born with claws on their wings like the long-extinct Archaeopteryx, have led some to proclaim this species as a “living fossil”. In other words, one of the most primitive forms of still-existing wildlife.

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