Phylogenetic placement, developmental trajectories and evolutionary implications of a feathered dinosaur tail in Mid-Cretaceous amber
Summary In a recent report in Current Biology , Xing and colleagues  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 the Coelurosauria, possibly even Maniraptora; and, the integumentary appendages are feathers that support a barbule-first evolutionary pattern for feathers. DIP-V-15103 is indeed an intriguing specimen with potential implications for contributing to understanding the evolution of feathers among dinosaurs, which remains a current and undoubtedly controversial topic [2,3]. However, I would like to raise several concerns about the available evidence for the phylogenetic hypothesis concerning the placement of DIP-V-15103 as concluded by Xing and colleagues , and furthermore discuss the developmental trajectories predicted by them in light of their far-reaching evolutionary implications.
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