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A new Jurassic scansoriopterygid and the loss of membranous wings in theropod dinosaurs

Published on May 1, 2019in Nature 43.07
· DOI :10.1038/s41586-019-1137-z
Min Wang30
Estimated H-index: 30
(CAS: Chinese Academy of Sciences),
Min Wang11
Estimated H-index: 11
(CAS: Chinese Academy of Sciences)
+ 1 AuthorsZHOUZhonghe47
Estimated H-index: 47
(CAS: Chinese Academy of Sciences)
Cite
Abstract
Powered flight evolved independently in vertebrates in the pterosaurs, birds and bats, each of which has a different configuration of the bony elements and epidermal structures that form the wings1,2. Whereas the early fossil records of pterosaurs and bats are sparse, mounting evidence (primarily from China) of feathered non-avian dinosaurs and stemward avians that derive primarily from the Middle–Upper Jurassic and Lower Cretaceous periods has enabled the slow piecing together of the origins of avian flight3,4. These fossils demonstrate that, close to the origin of flight, dinosaurs closely related to birds were experimenting with a diversity of wing structures3,5. One of the most surprising of these is that of the scansoriopterygid (Theropoda, Maniraptora) Yi qi, which has membranous wings—a flight apparatus that was previously unknown among theropods but that is used by both the pterosaur and bat lineages6. This observation was not universally accepted7. Here we describe a newly identified scansoriopterygid—which we name Ambopteryx longibrachium, gen. et sp. nov.—from the Upper Jurassic period. This specimen provides support for the widespread existence of membranous wings and the styliform element in the Scansoriopterygidae, as well as evidence for the diet of this enigmatic theropod clade. Our analyses show that marked changes in wing architecture evolved near the split between the Scansoriopterygidae and the avian lineage, as the two clades travelled along very different paths to becoming volant. The membranous wings supported by elongate forelimbs that are present in scansoriopterygids probably represent a short-lived experimentation with volant behaviour, and feathered wings were ultimately favoured during the later evolution of Paraves.
  • References (40)
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References40
Newest
Published on Dec 1, 2018in Nature Communications 11.88
Dongyu Hu1
Estimated H-index: 1
(Ministry of Land and Resources of the People's Republic of China),
Julia A. Clarke27
Estimated H-index: 27
(University of Texas at Austin)
+ 7 AuthorsXing Zhou Xu1
Estimated H-index: 1
(CAS: Chinese Academy of Sciences)
The Jurassic Yanliao theropods have offered rare glimpses of the early paravian evolution and particularly of bird origins, but, with the exception of the bizarre scansoriopterygids, they have shown similar skeletal and integumentary morphologies. Here we report a distinctive new Yanliao theropod species bearing prominent lacrimal crests, bony ornaments previously known from more basal theropods. It shows longer arm and leg feathers than Anchiornis and tail feathers with asymmetrical vanes formi...
Published on Dec 1, 2016in Acta Geologica Sinica-english Edition
Xu Xing2
Estimated H-index: 2
(CAS: Chinese Academy of Sciences),
ZHOUZhonghe47
Estimated H-index: 47
(CAS: Chinese Academy of Sciences)
+ 2 AuthorsDong Ren25
Estimated H-index: 25
(Capital Normal University)
The northeastern Chinese Yanliao Biota (sometimes called the Daohugou Biota) comprises numerous, frequently spectacular fossils of non-marine organisms, occurring in Middle-Upper Jurassic strata in western Liaoning, northern Hebei, and southeastern Inner Mongolia. The biota lasted for about 10 million years, divided into two phases: the Bathonian-Callovian Daohugou phase (about 168–164 million years ago) and the Oxfordian Linglongta phase (164–159 million years ago). The Yanliao fossils are ofte...
Published on Oct 1, 2016in Geochemistry Geophysics Geosystems 2.95
CHUZhuyin25
Estimated H-index: 25
(CAS: Chinese Academy of Sciences),
Huaiyu He20
Estimated H-index: 20
(CAS: Chinese Academy of Sciences)
+ 8 AuthorsChenglong Deng29
Estimated H-index: 29
(CAS: Chinese Academy of Sciences)
The Yanliao Biota of northeastern China comprises the oldest feathered dinosaurs, transitional pterosaurs, as well as the earliest eutherian mammals, multituberculate mammals, and new euharamiyidan species that are key elements of the Mesozoic biotic record. Recent discovery of the Yanliao Biota in the Daxishan section near the town of Linglongta, Jianchang County in western Liaoning Province have greatly enhanced our knowledge of the transition from dinosaurs to birds, primitive to derived pter...
Published on Jun 1, 2016in Cladistics 7.78
Pablo A. Goloboff31
Estimated H-index: 31
,
Santiago A. Catalano12
Estimated H-index: 12
Version 1.5 of the computer program TNT completely integrates landmark data into phylogenetic analysis. Landmark data consist of coordinates (in two or three dimensions) for the terminal taxa; TNT reconstructs shapes for the internal nodes such that the difference between ancestor and descendant shapes for all tree branches sums up to a minimum; this sum is used as tree score. Landmark data can be analysed alone or in combination with standard characters; all the applicable commands and options ...
Published on Apr 13, 2016
Min Wang11
Estimated H-index: 11
(CAS: Chinese Academy of Sciences),
Graeme T. Lloyd21
Estimated H-index: 21
(Macquarie University)
The Early Cretaceous is a critical interval in the early history of birds. Exceptional fossils indicate that important evolutionary novelties such as a pygostyle and a keeled sternum had already arisen in Early Cretaceous taxa, bridging much of the morphological gap between Archaeopteryx and crown birds. However, detailed features of basal bird evolution remain obscure because of both the small sample of fossil taxa previously considered and a lack of quantitative studies assessing rates of morp...
Published on May 1, 2015in Nature 43.07
Kevin Padian27
Estimated H-index: 27
A new feathered dinosaur from China, belonging to an obscure and strange carnivorous group, bears a seemingly bony wrist structure that may have had a role in flight. See Letter p.70
Published on May 1, 2015in Nature 43.07
Xing Xu41
Estimated H-index: 41
,
Xiaoting Zheng15
Estimated H-index: 15
+ 7 AuthorsYanhong Pan13
Estimated H-index: 13
A recently discovered fossil belonging to the Scansoriopterygidae, a group of bizarre dinosaurs closely related to birds, represents a new scansoriopterygid species and preserves evidence of a membranous aerodynamic surface very different from a classic avian wing.
Published on Apr 1, 2015in Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 2.91
Francisco Serrano13
Estimated H-index: 13
(UMA: University of Málaga),
Paul Palmqvist30
Estimated H-index: 30
(UMA: University of Málaga),
José Luis Sanz29
Estimated H-index: 29
(UAM: Autonomous University of Madrid)
The abundant fossils of avian stem taxa unearthed during the last years make it necessary to review and improve the models for estimating body mass used in palaeoecological studies. In this article, single and multiple regression functions based on osteological measurements were obtained from a large data set of extant flying birds for estimating the body mass of 42 Mesozoic specimens from stem taxa Archaeopterygidae, Jeholornithidae, Sapeornithidae, Confuciusornithidae, and Enantiornithes, and ...
Published on Dec 12, 2014in Science 41.04
Xing Xu41
Estimated H-index: 41
(CAS: Chinese Academy of Sciences),
ZHOUZhonghe47
Estimated H-index: 47
(CAS: Chinese Academy of Sciences)
+ 4 AuthorsDavid J. Varricchio28
Estimated H-index: 28
(MSU: 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...
Published on Sep 1, 2014in Methods in Ecology and Evolution 7.10
Nicolás E. Campione13
Estimated H-index: 13
(Uppsala University),
David C. Evans22
Estimated H-index: 22
(U of T: University of Toronto)
+ 1 AuthorsMatthew T. Carrano32
Estimated H-index: 32
(National Museum of Natural History)
Summary 1. Body mass is strongly related to both physiological and ecological properties of living organisms. As a result, generating robust, broadly applicable models for estimating body mass in the fossil record provides the opportunity to reconstruct palaeobiology and investigate evolutionary ecology on a large temporal scale. 2. A recent study provided strong evidence that the minimum circumference of stylopodial elements (humerus and femur) is conservatively associated with body mass in liv...