A Feathered Dinosaur Tail with Primitive Plumage Trapped in Mid-Cretaceous Amber

Published on Dec 1, 2016in Current Biology 9.25
· DOI :10.1016/j.cub.2016.10.008
Lida Xing18
Estimated H-index: 18
(China University of Geosciences),
Ryan C. McKellar5
Estimated H-index: 5
(University of Regina)
+ 11 AuthorsPhilip J. Currie45
Estimated H-index: 45
(University of Alberta)
Abstract
Summary In the two decades since the discovery of feathered dinosaurs [1–3], the range of plumage known from non-avialan theropods has expanded significantly, confirming several features predicted by developmentally informed models of feather evolution [4–10]. However, three-dimensional feather morphology and evolutionary patterns remain difficult to interpret, due to compression in sedimentary rocks [9, 11]. Recent discoveries in Cretaceous amber from Canada, France, Japan, Lebanon, Myanmar, and the United States [12–18] reveal much finer levels of structural detail, but taxonomic placement is uncertain because plumage is rarely associated with identifiable skeletal material [14]. Here we describe the feathered tail of a non-avialan theropod preserved in mid-Cretaceous (∼99 Ma) amber from Kachin State, Myanmar [17], with plumage structure that directly informs the evolutionary developmental pathway of feathers. This specimen provides an opportunity to document pristine feathers in direct association with a putative juvenile coelurosaur, preserving fine morphological details, including the spatial arrangement of follicles and feathers on the body, and micrometer-scale features of the plumage. Many feathers exhibit a short, slender rachis with alternating barbs and a uniform series of contiguous barbules, supporting the developmental hypothesis that barbs already possessed barbules when they fused to form the rachis [19]. Beneath the feathers, carbonized soft tissues offer a glimpse of preservational potential and history for the inclusion; abundant Fe 2+ suggests that vestiges of primary hemoglobin and ferritin remain trapped within the tail. The new finding highlights the unique preservation potential of amber for understanding the morphology and evolution of coelurosaurian integumentary structures.
  • References (31)
  • Citations (30)
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References31
Lorenzo Alibardi25
Estimated H-index: 25
Abstract The present ultrastructural study shows how cells organize to form the complex structure of downfeathers in chick embryos. The embryonic epidermis of the apical part of feather filaments folds inward forming barb ridges which extend toward the base of the feather. The stratification of epidermal cells in barb ridges is maintained but the basal layer loses most of the germinal activity. New cells for the growth of feather filaments are mainly produced in its basal part. In barb ridges on...
22 Citations
Published on Jun 1, 1998in Nature 41.58
Ji Qiang10
Estimated H-index: 10
(Geological Museum of China),
Philip J. Currie45
Estimated H-index: 45
(Royal Tyrrell Museum)
+ 1 AuthorsJi Shu-an2
Estimated H-index: 2
(Royal Tyrrell Museum)
Current controversy over the origin and early evolution of birds centres on whether or not they are derived from coelurosaurian theropod dinosaurs. Here we describe two theropods from the Upper Jurassic/Lower Cretaceous Chaomidianzi Formation of Liaoning province, China. Although both theropods have feathers, It Is likely that neither was able to fly. Phylogenetic analysis Indicates that they are both more primitive than the earliest known avlalan (bird), Archaeopteryx. These new fossils represe...
402 Citations Source Cite
Published on May 1, 1999in Nature 41.58
Xing Xu39
Estimated H-index: 39
(Academia Sinica),
Zhi-lu Tang1
Estimated H-index: 1
(Academia Sinica),
Xiaolin Wang30
Estimated H-index: 30
(Academia Sinica)
Therizinosauroidea ('segnosaurs') are little-known group of Asian dinosaurs with an unusual combination of features that, until recently, obscured their evolutionary relationships. Suggested affinities include Ornithischia(1), Sauroyodomorpha(2,3), Theropoda(4-11) and Saurischia sedis mutabilis(12). Here,ve describe a new therizinosauroid from the Yixian Formation (Early Cretaceous, Liaoning, China)(13). This new taxon provides fresh evidence that therizinosauroids are nested within the coeluros...
186 Citations Source Cite
Published on Jan 1, 1998in Nature 41.58
Pei-ji Chen1
Estimated H-index: 1
(Academia Sinica),
Zhiming Dong12
Estimated H-index: 12
(Academia Sinica),
Shuo-nan Zhen1
Estimated H-index: 1
(American Museum of Natural History)
Two spectacular fossilized dinosaur skeletons were recently discovered in Liaoning in northeastern China. Here we describe the two nearly complete skeletons of a small theropod that represent a species closely related to Compsognathus. Sinosauropteryx has the longest tail of any known theropod, and a three-fingered hand dominated by the first finger, which is longer and thicker than either of the bones of the forearm. Both specimens have interesting integumentary structures that could provide in...
468 Citations Source Cite
Published on Jan 1, 2005
David A. Grimaldi38
Estimated H-index: 38
(Stockholm University),
Michael S. Engel33
Estimated H-index: 33
Section 1. Diversity and Evolution: Introduction Species: their nature and number How many species of insects? Reconstructing evolutionary history Section 2. Fossil Insects: Insect fossilization Dating and ages Major fossil Insect deposits Section 3. Arthropods and the Origin of Insects: Onychophora: the velvet-worms Tardigrada: the water-bears Arthropoda: the jointed animals Hexapoda: the six-legged arthropods Section 4. The insects: Morphology of insects Relationships among the insect orders S...
2,001 Citations
Published on Apr 1, 2010in Nature 41.58
Xing Xu39
Estimated H-index: 39
,
Xiaoting Zheng14
Estimated H-index: 14
(Chinese Academy of Sciences),
Hai-Lu You17
Estimated H-index: 17
Study of two specimens of the feathered dinosaur Similicaudipteryx shows that the morphology of dinosaur feathers changed dramatically as the animals matured. Moreover, the morphology of feathers in dinosaurs was much more varied than one would expect from looking at feathers in modern birds.
89 Citations Source Cite
Published on Aug 15, 2003in Journal of Experimental Zoology 2.43
Richard O. Prum44
Estimated H-index: 44
(University of Kansas),
Jan Dyck6
Estimated H-index: 6
Plumage is a complex component of the avian phenotype. The plumage of an individual is composed of numerous hierarchically arranged developmental and morphological modules. We present a hierarchical model of plumage that provides an intellectual framework for understanding the development and evolution of feathers. Independence, covariation, and interaction among plumage modules create numerous opportunities for developmental and evolutionary diversification of feather complexity and function. T...
43 Citations Source Cite
Published on Jun 1, 2007in Italian Journal of Zoology 0.60
L. Alibardi4
Estimated H-index: 4
(University of Bologna)
The epidermis of developing feathers comprises outer and inner periderm, subperiderm and germinal layer. The inner periderm gives origin to sheath and barb ridge vane cells that contain alpha‐keratin and form a belt around feather filaments. This produces mechanical resistance, forcing the inner epidermal cell layers to fold inward and form barb ridges. Mesenchymal‐epidermal contacts occur from the mesenchymal core to external regions of barb ridges and involve thin cytoplasmic processes (filopo...
13 Citations Source Cite
Published on Oct 23, 2008in Nature 41.58
Fucheng Zhang31
Estimated H-index: 31
(Chinese Academy of Sciences),
Xing Xu39
Estimated H-index: 39
(Chinese Academy of Sciences)
+ 2 AuthorsCorwin Sullivan20
Estimated H-index: 20
(Chinese Academy of Sciences)
This paper presents another chapter in the earliest history of birds, with the discovery of a feathered dinosaur from the Mid to Late Jurassic of China. Living a little earlier than the famous fossil bird Archaeopteryx, the newly discovered creature is birdlike in many ways including the presence of four very long tail feathers, but otherwise no sign of flight feathers of the kind seen in birdlike dinosaurs such as Microraptor.
136 Citations Source Cite
Published on Dec 12, 2014in Science 41.06
Xing Xu39
Estimated H-index: 39
(Chinese Academy of Sciences),
Robert Dudley17
Estimated H-index: 17
(University of California, Berkeley)
+ 4 AuthorsDavid J. Varricchio26
Estimated H-index: 26
(Montana State University)
Research on the origin and evolution of birds has gathered pace in recent years, aided by a continuous stream of new fossil finds as well as molecular phylogenies. Bird origins, in particular, are now better understood than those of mammals, for which the early fossil record is relatively poor compared with that of birds. Xu et al. review progress in tracing the origins of birds from theropod dinosaurs, focusing especially on recent fossil finds of feathered dinosaurs of northeastern China. They...
90 Citations Source Cite
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  • Citations (30)
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Cited By30
Published on Apr 1, 2017in Cretaceous Research 1.93
Paweł Jałoszyński7
Estimated H-index: 7
(American Museum of Natural History),
Adam J. Brunke7
Estimated H-index: 7
(American Museum of Natural History)
+ 2 AuthorsMing Bai14
Estimated H-index: 14
(Chinese Academy of Sciences)
Abstract The Mastigitae is a small supertribe of ant-like stone beetles that currently includes nine extant and five extinct genera. Extinct taxa are known within tribes Clidicini and Mastigini; the latter with one genus discovered in Baltic amber. For the first time, a Mesozoic genus of the tribe Mastigini is described, Clidicostigus arachnipes Jaloszynski, Brunke and Bai, gen. et sp. nov., from Cenomanian Burmese amber. The new taxon shares an enlarged and spiny scape and pedicel with its exta...
12 Citations Source Cite
Published on Feb 24, 2017in Science 41.06
Stephen L. Brusatte32
Estimated H-index: 32
(University of Edinburgh)
The evolution of birds from a group of small dinosaurs between 170 million and 150 million years ago has emerged as a textbook example of a major evolutionary transformation in the fossil record ( 1 ). The attainment of powered flight—that is, active flapping that generates thrust—has been widely regarded, sometimes explicitly but often implicitly, as a long evolutionary march in which natural selection progressively refined one subgroup of dinosaurs into ever-better aerialists. However, recent ...
3 Citations Source Cite
Published on Mar 1, 2017in Current Biology 9.25
Markus Lambertz6
Estimated H-index: 6
(University of Bonn)
Summary In a recent report in Current Biology , Xing and colleagues [1] present a small fragment of a vertebrate tail preserved in amber that bears integumentary appendages (DIP-V-15103, Dexu Institute of Paleontology, Chaozhou, China; Figure 1). Following several analyses using cutting-edge technology the authors conclude that: the tail belongs to a non-avian theropod dinosaur (non-avialan according to the authors, but non-avian used synonymously here); the dinosaur most likely was a member of ...
2 Citations Source Cite
Published on Mar 1, 2017in Current Biology 9.25
Lida Xing18
Estimated H-index: 18
(China University of Geosciences),
Ryan C. McKellar5
Estimated H-index: 5
(University of Regina)
+ 11 AuthorsAlexander P. Wolfe45
Estimated H-index: 45
(University of Alberta)
Summary In his correspondence, Markus Lambertz [1] raises some concerns about the phylogenetic placement and feather development of DIP-V-15103, the amber-entombed tail section that we recently reported [2] as fragmentary remains of a non-pygostylian coelurosaur (likely within the basal part of Coelurosauria). We here would like to respond to these concerns.
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Published on Jul 1, 2017in Cretaceous Research 1.93
Mei-Ying Lin1
Estimated H-index: 1
(Chinese Academy of Sciences),
Ming Bai14
Estimated H-index: 14
(Chinese Academy of Sciences)
Abstract A new cerambycid beetle ( Qitianniu zhihaoi gen. et. sp. nov.) is described on the basis of a single specimen embedded in Cretaceous Burmese amber (ca. 99 Ma). Unusual characteristics are hairy antennae and large lateral eyes, a pronotum with lateral margin, and sinuate protibiae. Based on a phylogenetic analysis, the systematic position of Qitianniu is still uncertain and we provisionally place it as Cerambycidae incertae sedis .
2 Citations Source Cite
Published on Sep 1, 2017in Materials Today 24.54
Tarah N. Sullivan2
Estimated H-index: 2
(University of California, San Diego),
Bin Wang7
Estimated H-index: 7
(Chinese Academy of Sciences)
+ 1 AuthorsMarc A. Meyers64
Estimated H-index: 64
(University of California, San Diego)
Flight is not the exclusive domain of birds; mammals (bats), insects, and some fish have independently developed this ability by the process of convergent evolution. Birds, however, greatly outperform other flying animals in efficiency and duration; for example the common swift ( Apus apus ) has recently been reported to regularly fly for periods of 10 months during migration. Birds owe this extraordinary capability to feathers and bones, which are extreme lightweight biological materials. They ...
13 Citations Source Cite
Published on Sep 1, 2017in Gondwana Research 5.66
Lida Xing18
Estimated H-index: 18
(China University of Geosciences),
Jingmai K. O'Connor19
Estimated H-index: 19
(Chinese Academy of Sciences)
+ 4 AuthorsMing Bai14
Estimated H-index: 14
(Chinese Academy of Sciences)
Abstract Burmese amber has recently provided some detailed glimpses of plumage, soft tissues, and osteology of juvenile enantiornithine birds, but these insights have been restricted to isolated wing apices. Here we describe nearly half of a hatchling individual, based on osteological and soft tissue data obtained from the skull, neck, feet, and wing, and identified as a member of the extinct avian clade Enantiornithes. Preserved soft tissue provides the unique opportunity to observe the externa...
18 Citations Source Cite
Published on Aug 9, 2018in Journal of Systematic Palaeontology 2.33
Daran Zheng5
Estimated H-index: 5
(University of Hong Kong),
André Nel14
Estimated H-index: 14
(University of Paris)
+ 3 AuthorsBo Wang17
Estimated H-index: 17
(Chinese Academy of Sciences)
Amber inclusions have been studied for several centuries, but true dragonflies are extremely rare, with only several poorly preserved wings recorded. In Burmese amber, odonatans are relatively diverse, but true dragonflies are still rare. An excellently preserved true dragonfly, Burmagomphides electronica Zheng, Nel & Wang gen. et sp. nov., representing the new family Burmagomphidae Zheng, Nel & Wang fam. nov., is described here from Cretaceous Burmese amber. This is the first well-preserved tru...
7 Citations Source Cite
Published on Oct 1, 2017in Systematic Entomology 4.24
Phillip Barden6
Estimated H-index: 6
(New Jersey Institute of Technology),
Hollister W. Herhold1
Estimated H-index: 1
(American Museum of Natural History),
David A. Grimaldi38
Estimated H-index: 38
(American Museum of Natural History)
An unusual Cretaceous trap jaw ant is described from Burmese amber dated to the Late Cretaceous. Linguamyrmex vladi gen.n. sp.n. is distinguished by an unusual suite of morphological characters indicating specialized predatory behaviour and an adaptive strategy no longer found among modern ant lineages. The clypeus, highly modified as in other closely related haidomyrmecine hell ants, is equipped with a paddle-like projection similar to Ceratomyrmex. X-ray imaging reveals that this clypeal paddl...
6 Citations Source Cite
Published on Dec 1, 2017in Nature Communications 12.35
Enrique Peñalver17
Estimated H-index: 17
(Instituto Geológico y Minero de España),
Antonio Arillo14
Estimated H-index: 14
(Complutense University of Madrid)
+ 5 AuthorsRicardo Pérez-de la Fuente10
Estimated H-index: 10
(University of Oxford)
Ticks are currently among the most prevalent blood-feeding ectoparasites, but their feeding habits and hosts in deep time have long remained speculative. Here, we report direct and indirect evidence in 99 million-year-old Cretaceous amber showing that hard ticks and ticks of the extinct new family Deinocrotonidae fed on blood from feathered dinosaurs, non-avialan or avialan excluding crown-group birds. A †Cornupalpatum burmanicum hard tick is entangled in a pennaceous feather. Two deinocrotonids...
15 Citations Source Cite