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Where the Wild Papers Are

Peters, W. S., and Peters, D. S. (in press). "Life history, sexual
dimorphism and 'ornamental' feathers in the mesozoic bird
Confuciusornis sanctusornamentaland", _Biology Letters_.


The life history of Confuciusornis sanctus is controversial. Recently,
the species' body size spectrum was claimed to contradict
osteohistological evidence for a rapid, bird-like
development. Moreover, sexual size dimorphism was rejected as an
explanation for the observed bimodal size distribution since the
presence of elongated rectrices, an assumed 'male' trait, was
uncorrelated with size. However, this interpretation (i) fails to
explain the size spectrum of C. sanctus which is trimodal rather than
bimodal, (ii) requires implausible neonate masses and (iii) is not
supported by analogy with sexual dimorphisms in modern birds, in which
elongated central rectrices are mostly sex-independent. Available
information on C. sanctus is readily reconciled if we assume a
bird-like life history, as well as a pronounced sexual size dimorphism
and sexually isomorphic extravagant feathers as frequently observed in
extant species.

DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2009.0574