Format

Send to

Choose Destination
Nat Commun. 2018 Mar 13;9(1):923. doi: 10.1038/s41467-018-03296-8.

Wing bone geometry reveals active flight in Archaeopteryx.

Author information

1
European Synchrotron Radiation Facility, 71 Avenue des Martyrs, CS-40220, 38043, Grenoble Cedex, France. dennis.voeten01@upol.cz.
2
Department of Zoology and Laboratory of Ornithology, Palacký University, 17. listopadu 50, 771 46, Olomouc, Czech Republic. dennis.voeten01@upol.cz.
3
Sorbonne Université, CNRS-INSU, Institut des Sciences de la Terre Paris, ISTeP UMR 7193, F-75005, Paris, France.
4
CNRS, Laboratoire d'éthologie animale et humaine, Université de Rennes 1, Université de Caen Normandie, 263 Avenue du Général Leclerc, 35042, Rennes, France.
5
Bürgermeister-Müller-Museum, Bahnhofstrasse 8, 91807, Solnhofen, Germany.
6
Bayerische Staatssammlung für Paläontologie und Geologie, Richard-Wagner-Str. 10, D-80333, München, Germany.
7
European Synchrotron Radiation Facility, 71 Avenue des Martyrs, CS-40220, 38043, Grenoble Cedex, France.
8
Department of Zoology and Laboratory of Ornithology, Palacký University, 17. listopadu 50, 771 46, Olomouc, Czech Republic.
9
Science for Life Laboratory and Uppsala University, Subdepartment of Evolution and Development, Department of Organismal Biology, Evolutionary Biology Centre, Norbyvägen 18A, 752 36, Uppsala, Sweden.

Abstract

Archaeopteryx is an iconic fossil taxon with feathered wings from the Late Jurassic of Germany that occupies a crucial position for understanding the early evolution of avian flight. After over 150 years of study, its mosaic anatomy unifying characters of both non-flying dinosaurs and flying birds has remained challenging to interpret in a locomotory context. Here, we compare new data from three Archaeopteryx specimens obtained through phase-contrast synchrotron microtomography to a representative sample of archosaurs employing a diverse array of locomotory strategies. Our analyses reveal that the architecture of Archaeopteryx's wing bones consistently exhibits a combination of cross-sectional geometric properties uniquely shared with volant birds, particularly those occasionally utilising short-distance flapping. We therefore interpret that Archaeopteryx actively employed wing flapping to take to the air through a more anterodorsally posteroventrally oriented flight stroke than used by modern birds. This unexpected outcome implies that avian powered flight must have originated before the latest Jurassic.

PMID:
29535376
PMCID:
PMC5849612
DOI:
10.1038/s41467-018-03296-8
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Nature Publishing Group Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center