Learn More
The recent discovery of small paravian theropod dinosaurs with well-preserved feathers in the Middle-Late Jurassic Tiaojishan Formation of Liaoning Province (northeastern China) has challenged the pivotal position of Archaeopteryx, regarded from its discovery to be the most basal bird. Removing Archaeopteryx from the base of Avialae to nest within(More)
The Mesozoic fossil record has proved critical for understanding the early evolution and subsequent radiation of birds. Little is known, however, about its relative completeness: just how 'good' is the fossil record of birds from the Mesozoic? This question has come to prominence recently in the debate over differences in estimated dates of origin of major(More)
The fossil birds Archaeopteryx and Confuciusornis had feathered wings resembling those of living birds, but their flight capabilities remain uncertain. Analysis of the rachises of their primary feathers shows that the rachises were much thinner and weaker than those of modern birds, and thus the birds were not capable of flight. Only if the primary feather(More)
Throughout the animal kingdom, adaptive colouration serves critical functions ranging from inconspicuous camouflage to ostentatious sexual display, and can provide important information about the environment and biology of a particular organism. The most ubiquitous and abundant pigment, melanin, also has a diverse range of non-visual roles, including(More)
The predatory pliosaurs were among the largest creatures ever to inhabit the oceans, some reaching gigantic proportions greater than 15 m in length. Fossils of this subclade of plesiosaurs are known from sediments all over the world, ranging in age from the Hettangian (approximately 198 Myr) to the Turonian (approximately 92 Myr). However, due to a lack of(More)
Birds known from more than isolated skeletal elements are rare in the fossil record, especially from the European Mesozoic. This paucity has hindered interpretations of avian evolution immediately prior to, and in the aftermath of, the Cretaceous-Tertiary (K-T) extinction event. We report on a specimen of a large ornithurine bird (closely related to(More)
We describe a new taxon of medium-sized (wing span ca. 3 m) azhdarchid pterosaur from the Upper Cretaceous Transylvanian Basin (Sebeş Formation) of Romania. This specimen is the most complete European azhdarchid yet reported, comprising a partially articulated series of vertebrae and associated forelimb bones. The new taxon is most similar to the Central(More)
Despite a rapidly improving fossil record, the reproductive biology of Mesozoic birds remains poorly known: only a handful of undisputed, isolated Cretaceous eggs (some containing embryonic remains) are known. We report here the first fossil evidence for a breeding colony of Mesozoic birds, preserved at the Late Cretaceous (Maastrichtian) Oarda de Jos (Od)(More)
Recent discoveries have highlighted the dramatic evolutionary transformation of massive, ground-dwelling theropod dinosaurs into light, volant birds. Here, we apply Bayesian approaches (originally developed for inferring geographic spread and rates of molecular evolution in viruses) in a different context: to infer size changes and rates of anatomical(More)
The tendency for the mean body size of taxa within a clade to increase through evolution (Cope's Rule) has been demonstrated in a number of terrestrial vertebrate groups. However, because avian body size is strongly constrained by flight, any increase in size during the evolution of this lineage should be limited - there is a maximum size that can be(More)