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Homology and Potential Cellular and Molecular Mechanisms for the Development of Unique Feather Morphologies in Early Birds

Published on Sep 14, 2012
· DOI :10.3390/geosciences2030157
Jingmai K. O'Connor22
Estimated H-index: 22
,
Luis M. Chiappe45
Estimated H-index: 45
+ 2 AuthorsHai-Lu You20
Estimated H-index: 20
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Abstract
At least two lineages of Mesozoic birds are known to have possessed a distinct feather morphotype for which there is no neornithine (modern) equivalent. The early stepwise evolution of apparently modern feathers occurred within Maniraptora, basal to the avian transition, with asymmetrical pennaceous feathers suited for flight present in the most basal recognized avian, Archaeopteryx lithographica. The number of extinct primitive feather morphotypes recognized among non-avian dinosaurs continues to increase with new discoveries; some of these resemble feathers present in basal birds. As a result, feathers between phylogenetically widely separated taxa have been described as homologous. Here we examine the extinct feather morphotypes recognized within Aves and compare these structures with those found in non-avian dinosaurs. We conclude that the “rachis dominated” tail feathers of Confuciusornis sanctus and some enantiornithines are not equivalent to the “proximally ribbon-like” pennaceous feathers of the juvenile oviraptorosaur Similicaudipteryx yixianensis. Close morphological analysis of these unusual rectrices in basal birds supports the interpretation that they are modified pennaceous feathers. Because this feather morphotype is not seen in living birds, we build on current understanding of modern feather molecular morphogenesis to suggest a hypothetical molecular developmental model for the formation of the rachis dominated feathers of extinct basal birds.
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References62
Newest
#1Xing Zhou Xu (CAS: Chinese Academy of Sciences)H-Index: 2
#2Hai-Lu YouH-Index: 20
Last.Fenglu Han (CAS: Chinese Academy of Sciences)H-Index: 11
view all 4 authors...
#1Jesús Marugán-Lobón (Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County)H-Index: 16
#2Luis M. Chiappe (Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County)H-Index: 45
Last.Qinjing Meng (AMNH: American Museum of Natural History)H-Index: 3
view all 7 authors...
#1Xing Xu (CAS: Chinese Academy of Sciences)H-Index: 41
#2Xiaoting ZhengH-Index: 15
Last.Hai-Lu YouH-Index: 20
view all 3 authors...
Cited By32
Newest
#1Lida Xing (China University of Geosciences)H-Index: 18
#2Ryan C. McKellar (KU: University of Kansas)H-Index: 12
Last.Luis M. Chiappe (Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County)H-Index: 45
view all 7 authors...
#1Di Liu (AMNH: American Museum of Natural History)H-Index: 5
#2Luis M. Chiappe (Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County)H-Index: 45
Last.Qingjin Meng (AMNH: American Museum of Natural History)H-Index: 14
view all 5 authors...
#1Lida Xing (China University of Geosciences)H-Index: 18
#2Pierre F.D. Cockx (University of Regina)H-Index: 1
Last.Jingmai K. O’Connor (CAS: Chinese Academy of Sciences)H-Index: 9
view all 4 authors...
#1Evan T. Saitta (UoB: University of Bristol)H-Index: 4
#2Evan T. Saitta (UoB: University of Bristol)H-Index: 1
Last.Jakob VintherH-Index: 27
view all 4 authors...
#1Corwin Sullivan (CAS: Chinese Academy of Sciences)H-Index: 22
#2Xing Xu (CAS: Chinese Academy of Sciences)H-Index: 41
Last.Jingmai K. O’Connor (CAS: Chinese Academy of Sciences)H-Index: 9
view all 3 authors...
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