Fun Aurornis Facts For Kids

Ritika Katariya
Oct 20, 2022 By Ritika Katariya
Originally Published on Oct 12, 2021
Edited by Jacob Fitzbright
Discover amazing Aurornis facts in this article.
Age: 3-18
Read time: 6.1 Min

The Aurornis was first discovered in present-day northeastern China.

The specimen was described as a primitive fossil -belonging to the group of feathered dinosaurs, by Hu Dong-Yu, Gareth Dyke, Pascal Godefroit, François Escuillié, Andrea Cau, and Wu Wenhao in the year 2013. The general name Aurornis was actually procured from the word 'aurora' which is Latin and means ‘daybreak,' and the Greek word ornis for ‘bird.'

The primitive feathered dinosaur was actually discovered by a farmer on work.

According to Pascal Godefroit of the Royal Belgian institute, it is a revolutionary discovery as it went through immense debate and controversy to stand against the Archaeopteryx as the earliest bird.

Other researchers like Dr. Paul Barrett from the Natural History Museum in London, viewed it as a wonderful opportunity to re-define what you could call a bird and opened new avenues for re-evaluation of past discoveries.

The Aurornis was thus looked upon as a link to study the relationship between dinosaurs and birds, thus an important fossil in the history of bird lineage.

Although the title of the oldest bird was long held by the archaeopteryx, according to Gareth Dyke Aurornis ranks even ahead of the Archaeopteryx as the oldest member of the bird lineage.

If you enjoyed this article, learn more about other dinosaur species with these Puertasaurus and Incisivosaurus facts.

Aurornis Interesting Facts

How do you pronounce 'Aurornis'?

Aurornis is pronounced as 'or-roar-nis'.

What type of dinosaur was an Aurornis?

The Aurornis was an avian dinosaur belonging to the Avialae group, hailing from the Anchiornithidae family. The group includes every animal that is more or less closely related to modern birds. 

In which geological period did the Aurornis roam the Earth?

According to the gathered fossil material, the Aurornis inhabited the Earth nearly 160 million years before during the Oxfordian age of the Late Jurassic Epoch.

When did the Aurornis become extinct?

The Aurornis became extinct after the mass extinction event that occurred around 65 million years ago along with many other avian dinosaurs.

Where did an Aurornis live?

The Aurornis fossil material was discovered in Liaoning province of China, in the bonebeds of the ‭‬Tiaojishan Formation.

What was an Aurornis' habitat?

The Aurornis xui inhabited the ‬Tiaojishan and Yixian formations, which is rocky and mountainous terrain. The site was composed of volcanic sedimentary rocks and was a common site where dinosaur fossils were found.

Who did an Aurornis live with?

The Aurornis is believed to hail from a location that was rich in dinosaur fossils. Dinosaurs like Darwinopterus, Archaeoistiodactylus, and Fenghuangopterus, all of which were Pterosaurs (flying dinosaurs), were found here. Although these birds could have hailed from different geological periods, it is quite certain that they all have the same place of origin.

How long did an Aurornis live?

The supposed icon of the evolution of birds, Aurornis xui was a tiny avian insectivore, who evolved from the theropod class. Currently, science holds that the theropods had a shorter lifespan than the sauropods. Thus it is possible the Aurornis Xui did not have a great lifespan, since the exact lifespan of avian dinosaurs is unknown.

How did they reproduce?

While the Avialae group was oviparous just like the fellow dinosaurs, they incubated these dinosaurs incubated their eggs with direct contact, as seen with modern birds. The feathers supposedly provided warmth to the eggs just like birds. Moreover, unlike terrestrial dinosaurs, the hatchlings of the avian dinosaurs were born mobile and somewhat independent.

Aurornis Fun Facts

What did an Aurornis look like?

The silhouette of the Aurornis is compared to a human palm to draw a rough idea of the size of the bird

The Aurornis fossils reveal that it was a tiny bird-like creature with feathers. It had a tiny skull and body, a bill-like beak, clawed feet, and a long tail with feathers, a common trait among primitive birds.

How many bones did an Aurornis have?

Although the exact count is unknown, it's certain that the Aurornis xui specimen contained a set of two hollow bones attached to the rib cage to support the feathers like other bird-dinosaurs, a skull, two feet bones, and a tail bone.

How did they communicate?

This feathered dinosaur probably communicated through verbal sounds, calls, and other physical gestures. It is certainly not possible that it roared or made loud noises since it was closer to the modern-day birds.

How big was an Aurornis?

The Aurornis xui was probably among the tiniest dinosaurs in the Avialae lineage. As the fossil suggests, it was even smaller than a full-grown rooster! An average rooster is almost as big as 27.6 in (70 cm) while the Auronis was only 15.7 in (40 cm), thus making it almost twice as small as a rooster.

How fast could an Aurornis move?

The Aurornis xui had a small size which helped it move at a faster pace as compared to other bigger creatures. The exact speed is unknown but its feet were supportive enough to provide it with a good speed.

How much did an Aurornis weigh?

For centuries, the Archaeopteryx is celebrated as the earliest bird, it was a medium-sized avian, it weighed around 1.8-2.2 lb (0.8-1 kg), whereas the Aurornis only weighed around 8.8 oz (250 g), thus making it much lighter than the first bird Archaeopteryx.

What were the male and female names of the species?

The male and female of the species had no sex-specific names.

What would you call a baby Aurornis?

Since they were avian, it would be appropriate to call them chicks or hatchlings.

What did they eat?

The diet of the Aurornis did not include plants, instead, it included insects! It is not known the kind of insects they fed on but it was common for avian dinosaurs to feed on insects.

How aggressive were they?

Not much is known about the behavior of the primitive bird, however, they were hunters hence could have been a bit aggressive.

Did you know...

The specimen type was actually discovered by a farmer but was obtained through a fossil dealer all the way from China. The farmer probably handed the uncanny specimen to the dealer, which was later studied by researchers. 

The Aurornis is stood a nomination as the earliest bird to exist. The Archaeopteryx had a genus that several chose to utilize in order to demarcate the division line between dinosaurs and the dinosaurs that had become birds.‭ ‬It was long deemed to be the oldest bird and still has controversies surrounding its status of a bird.

Thus Aurornis takes the bite in this fight.

A 2017 study suggested that Aurornis may be a junior synonym of the Anchiornis, a genus of four-winged dinosaur birds.

A 150-million-year-old creature discovered in Germany was found out to be the basal species of the Aurornis.

Could the Aurornis fly?

Research on the fossil revealed that the Aurornis xui were actually incapable of flight. They lacked flight feathers, although they were feathered all over. Yet, it had been labeled as an avian due to its bird-like features and the undetermined possibility of flight.

Was Aurornis the first bird?

Luis Chiappe of Natural History Museum of Los Angeles in California believes that Archaeopteryx is still the creature that deserves the title of the 'oldest bird' by arguing that Aurornis xui's forelimb is very short in length in reality for it to be an actual bird.

He has the conclusion that this species 'is very birdlike, but it is not yet a bird'.

However other researchers believe otherwise.

On a primary basis, the status of the archaeopteryx was already a matter of debate as it wasn't considered to be enough bird-like. Later the discovery of the Aurornis gave the scientific community a better reason to acknowledge the status of the Aurornis as the first bird, bringing in bird evolution.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly dinosaur facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other creatures from our Rhinorex fun facts, or Nipponosaurus facts for kids.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable dinosaur teeth coloring pages.

Main image by El fosilmaníaco.

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Written by Ritika Katariya

Bachelor of Arts specializing in English

Ritika Katariya picture

Ritika KatariyaBachelor of Arts specializing in English

A dedicated content writer and language enthusiast, Ritika holds a Bachelor's degree in English Language and Literature from Fergusson College. With a keen interest in linguistics and literary adaptations, she has conducted extensive research in these domains. Beyond her academic pursuits, Ritika actively volunteers at her university, providing academic and on-campus assistance to fellow students.

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