The Origin of Birds: Current Consensus, Controversy, and the Occurrence of Feathers

  title={The Origin of Birds: Current Consensus, Controversy, and the Occurrence of Feathers},
  author={Oliver W. M. Rauhut and Christian Foth},
Research in the late 1900s has established that birds are theropod dinosaurs, with the discovery of feather preservation in non-avian theropods being the last decisive evidence for the dinosaur origin of this group. Partially due to the great interest in the origin of birds, more phylogenetic analyses of non-avian theropod dinosaurs have probably been published than any other group of fossil vertebrates. Despite a lot of uncertainty in the exact placement of many taxa and even some major clades… 
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Pelecanimimus (Theropoda: Ornithomimosauria) postcranial anatomy and the evolution of the specialized manus in Ornithomimosaurs and sternum in maniraptoriforms

A new, detailed, revised and more accurate osteological and phylogenetic analysis of Pelecanimimus shows several ornithomimosaur synapomorphies and a unique combination of characters that emend its original diagnosis, providing a key step in the evolution of the manus and pectoral girdle in Ornithomicosauria.

Rapid Initial Morphospace Expansion and Delayed Morphological Disparity Peak in the First 100 Million Years of the Archosauromorph Evolutionary Radiation

Adaptive radiations have played a major role in generating modern and deep-time biodiversity. The Triassic radiation of the Archosauromorpha was one of the most spectacular vertebrate radiations,

Multiple Functional Solutions During Flightless to Flight-Capable Transitions

This work uses CT scans coupled with a three-dimensional musculoskeletal modeling approach to analyze how ontogenetic changes in skeletal anatomy influence muscle size, leverage, orientation, and corresponding function during the development of flight in a precocial ground bird (Alectoris chukar).



Avian Ancestors-A Review of the Phylogenetic Relationships of the Theropods Unenlagiidae, Microraptoria, Anchiornis and Scansoriopterygidae.

This book presents some novel results which are important for the reconstruction of this major evolutionary transition to birds and builds one of the largest datasets for the examination of coelurosaurian phylogeny, but their focus is on several recently discovered taxa, such as Unenlagiidae, Microraptoria, Anchiornis and Scansoriopterygidae.

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.

The phylogenetic position of the Tyrannosauridae: implications for theropod systematics

  • T. Holtz
  • Environmental Science, Geography
    Journal of Paleontology
  • 1994
The inclusion of the Tyrannosauridae within Maniraptora suggests a major adaptive radiation of coelurosaurs within Cretaceous Asiamerica comparable to contemporaneous radiations in various herbivorous dinosaurian clades.

Paravian Phylogeny and the Dinosaur-Bird Transition: An Overview

It is concluded that troodontid affinities of anchiornithines, and dromaeosaurids affinITIES of microraptorians and unenlagiids are dismissed in favor of sister group relationships with Avialae, and main phylogenetic hypotheses that compete some topics about the non-avian dinosaur-bird transition are analyzed.


G. Heilmann (1926) concluded that birds had evolved from ‘‘thecodonts’’—a polyphyletic garbage bag assemblage of early archosaurs, and his hypothesis was the basis of many scenarios.

A taxonomic and phylogenetic re-evaluation of Therizinosauria (Dinosauria: Maniraptora)

Time calibration of ingroup relationships indicates a pre-Turonian dispersal event is needed to account for the presence of therizinosaurids in the Late Cretaceous of North America and Asia; this conclusion supports previous hypotheses of a Laurasian faunal interchange event during the Albian.

A new Jurassic scansoriopterygid and the loss of membranous wings in theropod dinosaurs

Support is provided for the widespread existence of membranous wings and the styliform element in the Scansoriopterygidae, as well as evidence for the diet of this enigmatic theropod clade.

The skull of a relative of the stem-group bird Mononykus

The configuration of the temporal region of the skull and its articulation with the rostrum indicate the capability for prokinetic movement in which flexing occurs at the junction of the upper jaw and neurocranium, and support the idea that prokinesis preceded other types of avian intracranial kinesis.

An integrative approach to understanding bird origins

Recent discoveries of spectacular dinosaur fossils overwhelmingly support the hypothesis that birds are descended from maniraptoran theropod dinosaurs, and furthermore, demonstrate that distinctive bird characteristics such as feathers, flight, endothermic physiology, unique strategies for reproduction and growth, and a novel pulmonary system originated among Mesozoic terrestrial dinosaurs.

A Basal Alvarezsauroid Theropod from the Early Late Jurassic of Xinjiang, China

A more complete early specimen is described, dating to about 160 million years ago, which supports the conclusion that Alvarezsauroidea are a basal group of the clade containing both birds and their close theropod relatives and confirms that this group is a basal member of Maniraptora.