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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
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
Oliver W. M. Rauhut28
Estimated H-index: 28
,
Christian Foth11
Estimated H-index: 11
+ 1 AuthorsMark A. Norell57
Estimated H-index: 57
Recent discoveries in Asia have greatly increased our understanding of the evolution of dinosaurs’ integumentary structures, revealing a previously unexpected diversity of “protofeathers” and feathers. However, all theropod dinosaurs with preserved feathers reported so far are coelurosaurs. Evidence for filaments or feathers in noncoelurosaurian theropods is circumstantial and debated. Here we report an exceptionally preserved skeleton of a juvenile megalosauroid, Sciurumimus albersdoerferi n. g...
54 Citations Source Cite
Published on Apr 1, 2012in Nature 41.58
Xing Xu41
Estimated H-index: 41
,
Kebai Wang6
Estimated H-index: 6
+ 6 AuthorsShuo Wang6
Estimated H-index: 6
The discovery of a new species of Tyrannosaurus relative from the Early Cretaceous of China, some 125 million years old—the largest feathered creature known, living or extinct—has implications for early feather evolution.
67 Citations Source Cite
Published on Mar 1, 2012in Palaeontologische Zeitschrift 1.27
Christian Foth11
Estimated H-index: 11
Dinosaurs with fossilized filamentous integument structures are usually preserved in a highly flattened state. Several different feather types have been described on this basis, but the two-dimensional preservation of specimens during fossilization makes the identification of single feather structures difficult due to overlapping feather structures in vivo. Morphological comparison with the diversity of recent feather types is therefore absolutely vital to avoid misinterpretation. To simulate th...
17 Citations Source Cite
Published on Feb 1, 2012in Historical Biology 1.25
Jingmai K. O'Connor22
Estimated H-index: 22
,
Chengkai Sun1
Estimated H-index: 1
+ 2 AuthorsZHOUZhonghe47
Estimated H-index: 47
The Early Cretaceous long bony-tailed bird Jeholornis prima displays characters both more basal than Archaeopteryx and more derived, exemplifying the mosaic distribution of advanced avian features that characterises early avian evolution and obfuscates attempts to understand early bird relationships. The current diversity of Jeholornithiformes is controversial, since multiple possibly synonymous genera were named simultaneously. Here, we provide the first definitive evidence of a second species ...
24 Citations Source Cite
Published on Jul 1, 2011in Nature 41.58
Xing Zhou Xu2
Estimated H-index: 2
(CAS: Chinese Academy of Sciences),
Hai-Lu You20
Estimated H-index: 20
+ 1 AuthorsFenglu Han11
Estimated H-index: 11
(CAS: Chinese Academy of Sciences)
Archaeopteryx is widely accepted as being the most basal bird, and accordingly it is regarded as central to understanding avialan origins; however, recent discoveries of derived maniraptorans have weakened the avialan status of Archaeopteryx. Here we report a new Archaeopteryx-like theropod from China. This find further demonstrates that many features formerly regarded as being diagnostic of Avialae, including long and robust forelimbs, actually characterize the more inclusive group Paraves (com...
154 Citations Source Cite
Published on Apr 20, 2011
Peter J. Makovicky30
Estimated H-index: 30
,
Lindsay E. Zanno17
Estimated H-index: 17
24 Citations Source Cite
Published on Feb 28, 2011in Journal of Systematic Palaeontology 2.33
Jesús Marugán-Lobón16
Estimated H-index: 16
(Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County),
Luis M. Chiappe45
Estimated H-index: 45
(Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County)
+ 4 AuthorsQinjing Meng3
Estimated H-index: 3
(AMNH: American Museum of Natural History)
Confuciusornis sanctus stands out among the remarkable diversity of birds of the Jehol biota (Lower Cretaceous, Liaoning Province, China). Its basal position in the phylogenetic tree of birds, combined with the exceptional number of well-preserved, largely complete and articulated specimens, makes it a perfect model system for studying the variation, development and life history of early Mesozoic birds. A comprehensive morphometric study (measurements of humerus, ulna, radius, femur and tibia) p...
5 Citations Source Cite
Published on Jan 1, 2011in Journal of Zoology 1.96
Kevin Padian16
Estimated H-index: 16
(University of California, Berkeley),
John R. Horner41
Estimated H-index: 41
(MSU: Montana State University)
‘Bizarre structures’ in dinosaurs have four main traditional explanations: mechanical function, sexual selection, social selection and species recognition. Any of these can be plausible for individual species, but they fail to be persuasive when other lines of evidence cannot adequately test them. The first three also fail as general propositions when phylogenetic analyses based on other characters do not support scenarios of selective improvement of such functions in their clade (or the explana...
65 Citations Source Cite
Published on Nov 1, 2010in Nature 41.58
Xing Xu41
Estimated H-index: 41
(CAS: Chinese Academy of Sciences),
Xiaoting Zheng15
Estimated H-index: 15
,
Hai-Lu You20
Estimated H-index: 20
Replying to Richard O. Prum Nature 468, 10.1038/nature09480 Prum1 identifies the unusual feathers in the smaller Similicaudipteryx specimen as immature, and suggests that the different morphologies preserved in the smaller and larger specimens represent different growth stages of a single feather type rather than successive feather generations of different types. Although this new proposal is very interesting, we do not agree that it is better supported by the available data than our original in...
6 Citations Source Cite
Published on Nov 1, 2010in Nature 41.58
Richard O. Prum46
Estimated H-index: 46
(AMNH: American Museum of Natural History)
The transformation of neutral hydrogen located in the intergalactic medium into an ionized state was a major event in early cosmic history. The sensitive observations now possible with the Wide Field Camera 3, installed on the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) in 2009, have revealed a population of galaxies at redshifts of z >7, corresponding to a period when the Universe was only about 800 million years old. In a Review, Robertson et al. discuss the picture of events in the early Universe that is em...
8 Citations Source Cite
Cited By32
Newest
Published on Jan 30, 2019in Scientific Reports 4.12
Lida Xing18
Estimated H-index: 18
(China University of Geosciences),
Ryan C. McKellar12
Estimated H-index: 12
(KU: University of Kansas)
+ 3 AuthorsLuis M. Chiappe45
Estimated H-index: 45
(Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County)
Over the last three years, Burmese amber (~99 Ma, from Myanmar) has provided a series of immature enantiornithine skeletal remains preserved in varying developmental stages and degrees of completeness. These specimens have improved our knowledge based on compression fossils in Cretaceous sedimentary rocks, adding details of three-dimensional structure and soft tissues that are rarely preserved elsewhere. Here we describe a remarkably well-preserved foot, accompanied by part of the wing plumage. ...
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Published on Dec 11, 2017in Historical Biology 1.25
Federico L. Agnolin17
Estimated H-index: 17
,
Sebastián Rozadilla2
Estimated H-index: 2
,
Ismar de Souza Carvalho20
Estimated H-index: 20
(UFRJ: Federal University of Rio de Janeiro)
AbstractSince its original description as a feather belonging to a basal bird, the phylogenetic position of Praeornis sharovi was debated. It was considered as belonging to a bird, a cycad leaf, or as a ‘transitional’ integumentary structure between reptile scales and bird feathers. Recently, a basal enantiornithine bird was collected in Early Cretaceous beds of Brazil. This specimen shows very well-preserved rachis-dominated tail feathers with a very thick rachis and thick and rigid barbules. T...
1 Citations Source Cite
Published on Jul 4, 2019in Proteomics 3.53
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Published on Mar 1, 2019in Cretaceous Research 1.93
Di Liu5
Estimated H-index: 5
(AMNH: American Museum of Natural History),
Luis M. Chiappe45
Estimated H-index: 45
(Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County)
+ 2 AuthorsQingjin Meng14
Estimated H-index: 14
(AMNH: American Museum of Natural History)
We describe two nearly complete enantiornithine skeletons from the Lower Cretaceous Huajiying Formation (ca. 130.7 Ma) of northern Hebei province, China. Many morphological features indicate that these specimens represent a new taxon, here named Orienantius ritteri gen. et sp.. nov. The new fossils preserve their plumage as well as rare information about their soft tissues, including the wing’s patagia. Multivariate analyses of their skeleton and flight feathers provide insight into the aerodyna...
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Published on Feb 12, 2019in Frontiers of Earth Science in China
Federico L. Agnolin17
Estimated H-index: 17
,
Matías J. Motta1
Estimated H-index: 1
+ 2 AuthorsFernando E. Novas29
Estimated H-index: 29
Recent years witnessed the discovery of a great diversity of early birds as well as closely related non-avian theropods, which modified previous conceptions about the origin of birds and their flight. We here present a review of currently the taxonomic composition and main anatomical characteristics of those theropod families closely related with early birds, with the aim to analyze and discuss main phylogenetic hypotheses that compete some topics about the non-avian dinosaur-bird transition. We...
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Published on Dec 1, 2018in Journal of Palaeogeography
Lida Xing18
Estimated H-index: 18
(China University of Geosciences),
Pierre F.D. Cockx1
Estimated H-index: 1
(University of Regina)
+ 1 AuthorsJingmai K. O’Connor9
Estimated H-index: 9
(CAS: Chinese Academy of Sciences)
Over the last 20 years, compression fossils of feathers surrounding dinosaurs have greatly expanded our understanding of the origin and evolution of feathers. One of the most peculiar feather morphotypes discovered to date are rachis dominated feathers (RDFs), which have also been referred to as proximally ribbon-like pennaceous feathers (PRPFs). These elongate feathers are only found in the tail plumage, typically occurring in pairs with both streamer (not proximally ribbon-like) and racket-plu...
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Published on Dec 1, 2018
Evan T. Saitta1
Estimated H-index: 1
(UoB: University of Bristol),
Charles Clapham , Jakob Vinther27
Estimated H-index: 27
‘Exceptional fossils’ of dinosaurs preserving feathers have radically changed the way we view their paleobiology and the evolution of birds. Understanding how such soft tissues preserve is imperative to accurately interpreting the morphology of fossil feathers. Experimental taphonomy has been integral to such investigations. One such experiment used a printing press to mimic compaction, done subaerially and without sediment burial, and concluded that the leaking of bodily fluid could lead to the...
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Xiaoli Wang17
Estimated H-index: 17
(LYU: Linyi University),
Jingmai K. O’Connor9
Estimated H-index: 9
(CAS: Chinese Academy of Sciences)
+ 5 AuthorsZHOUZhonghe47
Estimated H-index: 47
(CAS: Chinese Academy of Sciences)
We describe a specimen of the basal ornithuromorph Archaeorhynchus spathula from the Lower Cretaceous Jiufotang Formation with extensive soft tissue preservation. Although it is the fifth specimen to be described, unlike the others it preserves significant traces of the plumage, revealing a pintail morphology previously unrecognized among Mesozoic birds, but common in extant neornithines. In addition, this specimen preserves the probable remnants of the paired lungs, an identification supported ...
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Published on Jun 1, 2017in Palaeoworld 1.09
Corwin Sullivan22
Estimated H-index: 22
(CAS: Chinese Academy of Sciences),
Xing Xu41
Estimated H-index: 41
(CAS: Chinese Academy of Sciences),
Jingmai K. O’Connor9
Estimated H-index: 9
(CAS: Chinese Academy of Sciences)
Abstract Recently reported specimens from the Mid-Late Jurassic Yanliao (or Daohugou) Biota and Early Cretaceous Jehol Biota of Northeast China suggest that the early evolution of avian flight involved a surprising amount of homoplasy and evolutionary experimentation. Pennaceous feathers of variable size, structure, and extent occur on the hindlimbs of numerous Jehol and Yanliao paravian theropods, including some basal birds, and clearly had an aerodynamic function at least in the dromaeosaurid ...
6 Citations Source Cite
Published on May 1, 2017in Protoplasma 2.46
Lorenzo Alibardi27
Estimated H-index: 27
(UNIBO: University of Bologna)
Feathers are corneous microramifications of variable complexity derived from the morphogenesis of barb ridges. Histological and ultrastructural analyses on developing and regenerating feathers clarify the three-dimensional organization of cells in barb ridges. Feather cells derive from folds of the embryonic epithelium of feather germs from which barb/barbule cells and supportive cells organize in a branching structure. The following degeneration of supportive cells allows the separation of barb...
10 Citations Source Cite