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PeerJ. 2014 Jan 2;2:e234. doi: 10.7717/peerj.234. eCollection 2014.

A new specimen of the Early Cretaceous bird Hongshanornis longicresta: insights into the aerodynamics and diet of a basal ornithuromorph.

Author information

1
Dinosaur Institute, Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County , Los Angeles, CA , USA.
2
Dalian Natural History Museum , District Dalian , PR China.
3
Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthroplogy , Beijing , PR China.
4
Dalian Natural History Museum , District Dalian , PR China ; Institute of Geology, Chinese Academy of Geological Sciences , Beijing , PR China.
5
University of Southern California, Health Sciences Campus , Los Angeles, CA , USA.
6
Unidad de Paleontología, Dpto. Biología, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid , Cantoblanco , Spain.
7
Beijing Natural History Museum , Beijing , PR China.

Abstract

The discovery of Hongshanornis longicresta, a small ornithuromorph bird with unusually long hindlimb proportions, was followed by the discovery of two closely related species, Longicrusavis houi and Parahongshanornis chaoyangensis. Together forming the Hongshanornithidae, these species reveal important information about the early diversity and morphological specialization of ornithuromorphs, the clade that contains all living birds. Here we report on a new specimen (DNHM D2945/6) referable to Hongshanornis longicresta that contributes significant information to better understand the morphology, trophic ecology, and aerodynamics of this species, as well as the taxonomy of the Hongshanornithidae. Most notable are the well-preserved wings and feathered tail of DNHM D2945/6, which afford an accurate reconstruction of aerodynamic parameters indicating that as early as 125 million years ago, basal ornithuromorphs had evolved aerodynamic surfaces comparable in size and design to those of many modern birds, and flight modes alike to those of some small living birds.

KEYWORDS:

Aerodynamics; Birds; China; Cretaceous; Morphology

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