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Ancient toothed birds, owl-shaped toys in the news

In the last two days, paleontologists and archeologists have reported three new findings about bird evolution and humans’ long-standing fascination with birds.

The first report is about a newly discovered species of large ancient bird that had teeth on its bill. That part of the story is cool enough, but the real news is that this bird’s fossil upends one of the longest-standing assumptions about the origins of modern birds.

The second study describes the first known swimming dinosaur. The animal, recovered from Mongolia’s Gobi Desert, was not a bird but looked like a modern cormorant. It was about a foot long and lived 71 million years ago.

Lastly, a team of archeologists has re-examined 5,000-year-old owl-shaped slate engraved plaques. Previously, it was believed that they had ritualistic significance and represented deities or the dead. But a new study says that the plaques may have been created by children as toys.

Read on to learn more.

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