Allometric Scaling in the Earliest Archaeopteryx lithographica

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Science  12 Jan 1990:
Vol. 247, Issue 4939, pp. 195-198
DOI: 10.1126/science.247.4939.195


Archaeopteryx is almost universally considered a primitive bird. Debate persists, however, about the taxonomic assignment of the six skeletal fossils. Allometric scaling of osteological data shows that all specimens are consistent with a single growth series. The absence of certain bone fusions suggests that no specimen is full-grown. Allometric patterns, as compared to growth gradients of other dinosaurs, extant ectotherms, and extant endotherms, suggest that Archaeopteryx was likely a homeothermic endotherm with rapid growth and precocial abilities for running and flying. Multivariate allometric models offer a significant potential for interpreting ontogenetic patterns and phylogenetic trends in the fossil record.

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