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Naturwissenschaften. 2002 Jan;89(1):34-8.

Largest bird from the Early Cretaceous and its implications for the earliest avian ecological diversification.

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Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing.


With only one known exception, early Cretaceous birds were smaller than their closest theropod dinosaur relatives. Here we report on a new bird from the Early Cretaceous feathered-dinosaur-bearing continental deposits of Liaoning, northeast China, which is not only larger than Archaeopteryx but is nearly twice as large as the basal dromaeosaur Microraptor. The new taxon, Sapeornis chaoyangensis gen. et sp. nov., has a more basal phylogenetic position than all other birds except for Archaeopteryx. Its exceptionally long forelimbs, well-developed deltoid crest of the humerus, proximally fused metacarpals, relatively short hindlimbs and short pygo-style indicate powerful soaring capability and further suggest that by the Early Cretaceous ecological diversification of early birds was greater than previously assumed. Electronic supplementary material to this paper can be obtained by using the Springer LINK server located at

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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