Palaeontology: An icon knocked from its perch

  title={Palaeontology: An icon knocked from its perch},
  author={Lawrence M. Witmer},
  • L. Witmer
  • Published 28 July 2011
  • Environmental Science, Biology
  • Nature
As sesquicentennial celebrations commemorate the discovery of Archaeopteryx as a historical symbol of evolution and the oldest fossil bird, new work shakes the dinosaur family tree — and our view of this icon. See Article p.465 When is a bird not a bird? When it's Archaeopteryx. In the 150th anniversary of its discovery, the position of Archaeopteryx as the earliest-known bird has been weakened thanks to the discovery of increasing numbers of feathered, bird-like dinosaurs over the past decade… 

Archaeopteryx, paravian phylogenetic analyses, and the use of probability-based methods for palaeontological datasets

This analysis demonstrates that Archaeopteryx represents a challenging taxon to place in the phylogenetic tree, but recent discoveries of derived theropods including basal avialans provide increased support for the deinonychosaurian affinities of Archaeoperyx.

Fossil Evidence in the Origin of Species November 2015 / Vol. 65 No. 11 • BioScience 1077 BioScience 65: 1077–1083. © The Author(s) 2015. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the American

Multiphase progenetic development shaped the brain of flying archosaurs

Geometric morphometrics are used to compare a phylogenetically and ecologically comprehensive data set of archosaurian endocasts along the deep evolutionary history of modern birds and found that this lineage experienced progressive elevation of encephalisation through several chapters of increased endocranial doming that were demonstrated to result from progenetic developments.


  • 2011

Likelihood reinstates Archaeopteryx as a primitive bird

Maximum-likelihood and related Bayesian methods applied to the same dataset yield a different and more orthodox result: Archaeopteryx is restored as a basal bird with bootstrap frequency and posterior probability consistent with a single origin of typical (forelimb-powered) bird flight.



An Archaeopteryx-like theropod from China and the origin of Avialae

It is demonstrated that many features formerly regarded as being diagnostic of Avialae, including long and robust forelimbs, actually characterize the more inclusive group Paraves (composed of the avialans and the deinonychosaurs), which challenges the centrality of Archaeopteryx in the transition to birds.

A pre-Archaeopteryx troodontid theropod from China with long feathers on the metatarsus

The extensive feathering of this specimen, particularly the attachment of long pennaceous feathers to the pes, sheds new light on the early evolution of feathers and demonstrates the complex distribution of skeletal and integumentary features close to the dinosaur–bird transition.

A new feathered maniraptoran dinosaur fossil that fills a morphological gap in avian origin

Recent fossil discoveries have substantially reduced the morphological gap between non-avian and avian dinosaurs, yet avians including Archaeopteryx differ from non-avian theropods in their limb

Archaeopteryx and the origin of birds

Analysis of the five presently known skeletal specimens of Archaeopteryx confirm the conclusions (long rejected by most subsequent workers) of Heilmann (1926), Lowe (1935, 1944, 1944) and Holmgren (1955), namely, that the skeletal anatomy of Archaeipteryx is extraordinarily similar to that of contemporaneous and succeeding coelurosaurian dinosaurs.

Plumage Color Patterns of an Extinct Dinosaur

This work has reconstructed the appearance of a theropod dinosaur by mapping features of its well-preserved feathers and comparing them with modern samples from birds, and indicates that the body was gray and dark and the face had rufous speckles.

自组装制备Fe 3 O 4 @Au复合纳米粒子用于固定化葡萄糖氧化酶

用化学共沉淀法合成了6~12 nm的超顺磁性Fe3O4纳米晶体, 在室温下用3-氨丙基三乙氧基硅烷(APTES)对其表面氨基化, 然后加入Frens法合成的金溶胶, 自组装制备了磁性Fe3O4@Au复合纳米粒子. 用透射电子显微镜(TEM)、紫外可见吸收光谱(UV-Vis)、傅里叶变换红外光谱(FT-IR)、震动样品磁场计(VSM)等方法对合成的金磁微粒的表面形貌、光学、结构、磁性质等进行表征.

Herbivorous ecomorphology and specialization patterns in theropod dinosaur evolution

A refined approach for assessing trophic habits in fossil taxa is presented and evidence indicating that the early evolution of a beak in coelurosaurians correlates with an herbivorous diet is found, as well as evidence for a common succession of increasing specialization to herbivory in the subclades Ornithomimosauria and Oviraptorosauria.