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Nonavian Feathers in a Late Triassic Archosaur

Science  23 Jun 2000:
Vol. 288, Issue 5474, pp. 2202-2205
DOI: 10.1126/science.288.5474.2202

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Abstract

Longisquama insignis was an unusual archosaur from the Late Triassic of central Asia. Along its dorsal axisLongisquama bore a series of paired integumentary appendages that resembled avian feathers in many details, especially in the anatomy of the basal region. The latter is sufficiently similar to the calamus of modern feathers that each probably represents the culmination of virtually identical morphogenetic processes. The exact relationship of Longisquama to birds is uncertain. Nevertheless, we interpret Longisquama's elongate integumentary appendages as nonavian feathers and suggest that they are probably homologous with avian feathers. If so, they antedate the feathers of Archaeopteryx, the first known bird from the Late Jurassic.

  • * To whom correspondence should be addressed. Present address: Department of Biology, Stephen F. Austin State University, Nacogdoches, TX 75962, USA. E-mail: tdjones{at}sfasu.edu

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