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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. Currie50
Estimated H-index: 50
(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 (32)
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References31
Newest
Published on Nov 1, 2016in Nature Communications 12.35
Lida Xing18
Estimated H-index: 18
(China University of Geosciences),
Ryan C. McKellar5
Estimated H-index: 5
(University of Regina)
+ 10 AuthorsMartinGLockley38
Estimated H-index: 38
(University of Colorado Denver)
Our knowledge of Cretaceous plumage is limited by the fossil record itself: compression fossils surrounding skeletons lack the finest morphological details and seldom preserve visible traces of colour, while discoveries in amber have been disassociated from their source animals. Here we report the osteology, plumage and pterylosis of two exceptionally preserved theropod wings from Burmese amber, with vestiges of soft tissues. The extremely small size and osteological development of the wings, co...
23 Citations Source Cite
Published on Jan 1, 2016in Current Biology 9.25
Jingmai K. O’Connor9
Estimated H-index: 9
(Chinese Academy of Sciences),
Xiaoli Wang17
Estimated H-index: 17
(Linyi University)
+ 3 AuthorsZHOUZhonghe47
Estimated H-index: 47
(Chinese Academy of Sciences)
Summary The most basal avians Archaeopteryx and Jeholornis have elongate reptilian tails. However, all other birds (Pygostylia) have an abbreviated tail that ends in a fused element called the pygostyle. In extant birds, this is typically associated with a fleshy structure called the rectricial bulb that secures the tail feathers (rectrices) [1]. The bulbi rectricium muscle controls the spread of the rectrices during flight. This ability to manipulate tail shape greatly increases flight function...
11 Citations Source Cite
Caitlin Colleary2
Estimated H-index: 2
(University of Bristol),
Andrei Dolocan18
Estimated H-index: 18
(University of Texas at Austin)
+ 13 AuthorsMatthew Clemens2
Estimated H-index: 2
(Southern Methodist University)
In living organisms, color patterns, behavior, and ecology are closely linked. Thus, detection of fossil pigments may permit inferences about important aspects of ancient animal ecology and evolution. Melanin-bearing melanosomes were suggested to preserve as organic residues in exceptionally preserved fossils, retaining distinct morphology that is associated with aspects of original color patterns. Nevertheless, these oblong and spherical structures have also been identified as fossilized bacter...
44 Citations Source Cite
Published on May 1, 2015in Scientific Reports 4.12
Daniel B. Thomas11
Estimated H-index: 11
,
Paul C. Nascimbene13
Estimated H-index: 13
+ 2 AuthorsHelen F. James28
Estimated H-index: 28
Animal colours can be richly informative about aspects of behaviour such as foraging ecology and mate preference. Birds in particular display many striking hues and complex patterns of pigmentation. Examples of plumage adaptations include brightly coloured feathers for enticing potential mates, as well as cryptic patterns that allow a bird to hide in plain sight1,2,3. By analogy with modern birds, the behaviours and habitats of ancient birds and other feathered dinosaurs may be inferred from pig...
14 Citations Source Cite
Published on Feb 16, 2015in Annual Review of Animal Biosciences 6.78
Chih-Feng Chen15
Estimated H-index: 15
(National Chung Hsing University),
John Foley19
Estimated H-index: 19
+ 5 AuthorsCheng-Ming Chuong61
Estimated H-index: 61
(University of Southern California)
The feather is a complex ectodermal organ with hierarchical branching patterns. It provides functions in endothermy, communication, and flight. Studies of feather growth, cycling, and health are of fundamental importance to avian biology and poultry science. In addition, feathers are an excellent model for morphogenesis studies because of their accessibility, and their distinct patterns can be used to assay the roles of specific molecular pathways. Here we review the progress in aspects of devel...
40 Citations Source Cite
Published on Dec 12, 2014in Science 41.06
Xing Xu41
Estimated H-index: 41
(Chinese Academy of Sciences),
ZHOUZhonghe47
Estimated H-index: 47
(Chinese Academy of Sciences)
+ 4 AuthorsDavid J. Varricchio28
Estimated H-index: 28
(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...
98 Citations Source Cite
Published on Nov 27, 2013
Mary H. Schweitzer24
Estimated H-index: 24
(North Carolina State University),
Wenxia Zheng10
Estimated H-index: 10
(North Carolina State University)
+ 5 AuthorsSirine C. Fakra35
Estimated H-index: 35
(Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory)
The persistence of original soft tissues in Mesozoic fossil bone is not explained by current chemical degradation models. We identified iron particles (goethite-αFeO(OH)) associated with soft tissues recovered from two Mesozoic dinosaurs, using transmission electron microscopy, electron energy loss spectroscopy, micro-X-ray diffraction and Fe micro-X-ray absorption near-edge structure. Iron chelators increased fossil tissue immunoreactivity to multiple antibodies dramatically, suggesting a role ...
35 Citations Source Cite
Published on Oct 1, 2013in Journal of Systematic Palaeontology 2.33
Jingmai K. O'Connor22
Estimated H-index: 22
,
ZHOUZhonghe47
Estimated H-index: 47
We review the enigmatic Chaoyangia beishanensis, one of the earliest birds described from the Jiufotang Formation, north-eastern China, and the first to be identified as an ornithurine (Aves: Ornithothoraces) and thus a member of the clade that includes living birds. A complete discussion of the validity of this taxon, which once included the holotype of Songlingornis, is provided, along with a revised diagnosis. The morphology of Chaoyangia is described, including extensive comparison with bett...
51 Citations Source Cite
Published on Jan 1, 2013in Acta Palaeontologica Polonica 1.89
W. Scott Persons13
Estimated H-index: 13
(University of Alberta),
Philip J. Currie50
Estimated H-index: 50
(University of Alberta),
Mark A. Norell57
Estimated H-index: 57
(American Museum of Natural History)
Oviraptorosaur caudal osteology is unique among theropods and is characterized by posteriorly persistent and exceptionally wide transverse processes, anteroposteriorly short centra, and a high degree of flexibility across the pre-pygostyle vertebral series. Three-dimensional digital muscle reconstructions reveal that, while oviraptorosaur tails were reduced in length relative to the tails of other theropods, they were muscularly robust. Despite overall caudal length reduction, the relative size ...
27 Citations Source Cite
Published on Sep 14, 2012
Jingmai K. O'Connor22
Estimated H-index: 22
,
Luis M. Chiappe45
Estimated H-index: 45
+ 2 AuthorsHai-Lu You20
Estimated H-index: 20
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 ...
32 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
(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. ...
Source Cite
Published on May 2, 2019in ZooKeys 1.08
Pavel Stoev12
Estimated H-index: 12
,
Leif Moritz1
Estimated H-index: 1
,
Thomas Wesener9
Estimated H-index: 9
Source Cite
Published on Feb 16, 2019in Journal of Systematic Palaeontology 2.33
Ekaterina A. Sidorchuk9
Estimated H-index: 9
(Russian Academy of Sciences),
Andre V. Bochkov14
Estimated H-index: 14
+ 1 AuthorsO. F. Chernova5
Estimated H-index: 5
(Russian Academy of Sciences)
Tetrapods are rarely recovered from fossil resins, such as amber, and fossils of parasites are even rarer. We describe the first pre-Quaternary co-occurrence of ectoparasitic mites with hairs of their mammalian hosts, preserved in life-like detail from a piece of Eocene (∼ 40 Ma) Baltic amber. The mites, representing the oldest fossils of the family Myobiidae (Acari: Prostigmata: Eleutherengona), are described as Protohylomysobia erinaceophilus Sidorchuk & Bochkov gen. et sp. nov. and belong to ...
2 Citations Source Cite
Published on Feb 16, 2019in Journal of Systematic Palaeontology 2.33
Sha Li3
Estimated H-index: 3
(Chinese Academy of Sciences),
Yuanyuan Lu3
Estimated H-index: 3
(Chinese Academy of Sciences)
+ 3 AuthorsMing Bai15
Estimated H-index: 15
(Chinese Academy of Sciences)
A new subfamily of Scarabaeidae, †Electrorubesopsinae Bai & Wang subfam. nov., is described from Cretaceous amber of Myanmar (earliest Cenomanian, ∼100 Ma) as the possible sister group of Dynamopodinae. †Electrorubesopsis beuteli Bai & Wang gen. et sp. nov. is the first species of this subfamily, which has probably been long extinct. Its external morphology was analysed and compared with all known genera of Dynamopodinae. A phylogenetic analysis based on 82 morphological characters suggests its ...
Source Cite
Published on Feb 11, 2019in Systematic Biology 8.52
Joyce C Havstad (Oakland University), N. Adam Smith10
Estimated H-index: 10
(Clemson University)
Source Cite
Published on Jan 1, 2019in Cretaceous Research 1.93
Lida Xing18
Estimated H-index: 18
(China University of Geosciences),
Andrew J. Ross17
Estimated H-index: 17
(National Museum of Scotland)
+ 2 AuthorsRyan C. McKellar5
Estimated H-index: 5
(University of Regina)
Abstract Gastropods are generally rare in amber. In this paper we describe an example of exceptional soft-bodied preservation in a fossil terrestrial mollusk-a snail shell with some tissue, including part of the cephalic region (head) with a tentacle and inferred eye stalk, and potentially part of the foot and operculum. The snail, a probable juvenile, is preserved in Burmese amber (Burmite) from Myanmar, of earliest Cenomanian age. Morphological evidence suggests a cyclophoroidean ancestry and ...
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Published on Dec 20, 2018in Diversity
Dave J. Clarke3
Estimated H-index: 3
,
Ajay Limaye1
Estimated H-index: 1
+ 1 AuthorsRolf G. Oberprieler11
Estimated H-index: 11
Only a few weevils have been described from Burmese amber, and although most have been misclassified, they show unusual and specialised characters unknown in extant weevils. In this paper, we present the results of a study of a much larger and more diverse selection of Burmese amber weevils. We prepared all amber blocks to maximise visibility of structures and examined these with high-magnification light microscopy as well as CT scanning (selected specimens). We redescribe most previously descri...
1 Citations Source Cite
Published on Dec 1, 2018in Scientific Reports 4.12
Lida Xing18
Estimated H-index: 18
(China University of Geosciences),
Edward L. Stanley9
Estimated H-index: 9
(Florida Museum of Natural History)
+ 1 AuthorsDavid C. Blackburn20
Estimated H-index: 20
(Florida Museum of Natural History)
Frogs are a familiar and diverse component of tropical forests around the world. Yet there is little direct evidence from the fossil record for the antiquity of this association. We describe four fossil frog specimens from mid-Cretaceous (~99 mya) amber deposits from Kachin State, Myanmar for which the associated fauna provides rich paleoenvironmental context. Microcomputed tomographic analysis provides detailed three-dimensional anatomy for these small frogs, which is generally unavailable for ...
1 Citations Source Cite
Published on Dec 1, 2018in Scientific Reports 4.12
Lida Xing18
Estimated H-index: 18
(China University of Geosciences),
Benjamin Sames9
Estimated H-index: 9
(University of Vienna)
+ 3 AuthorsWANXiaoqiao14
Estimated H-index: 14
(China University of Geosciences)
The mid-Cretaceous Burmese amber (~99 Ma, Myanmar), widely known for exquisite preservation of theropods, also yields microfossils, which can provide important contextual information on paleoenvironment and amber formation. We report the first Cretaceous ostracod in amber—the gigantic (12.9 mm) right valve of an exclusively marine group (Myodocopa: Myodocopida) preserved in Burmese amber. Ostracods are usually small (0.5–2 mm), with well-calcified carapaces that provide an excellent fossil recor...
6 Citations Source Cite