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Nat Commun. 2013;4:1394. doi: 10.1038/ncomms2389.

Reduced plumage and flight ability of a new Jurassic paravian theropod from China.

Author information

1
Department of Palaeontology, Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences, rue Vautier 29, 1000 Bruxelles, Belgium. pascal.godefroit@naturalsciences.be

Abstract

Feathered theropods were diverse in the Early Cretaceous Jehol Group of western Liaoning Province, China. Recently, anatomically distinct feathered taxa have been discovered in the older Middle-Late Jurassic Tiaojishan Formation in the same region. Phylogenetic hypotheses including these specimens have challenged the pivotal position of Archaeopteryx in bird phylogeny. Here we report a basal troodontid from the Tiaojishan Formation that resembles Anchiornis, also from Jianchang County (regarded as sister-taxa). The feathers of Eosinopteryx are less extensive on the limbs and tail than Anchiornis and other deinonychosaurians. With reduced plumage and short uncurved pedal claws, Eosinopteryx would have been able to run unimpeded (with large foot remiges cursorial locomotion was likely problematic for Anchiornis). Eosinopteryx increases the known diversity of small-bodied dinosaurs in the Jurassic, shows that taxa with similar body plans could occupy different niches in the same ecosystem and suggests a more complex picture for the origin of flight.

PMID:
23340434
DOI:
10.1038/ncomms2389
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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