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Feitianius, new enantiornithine from Early Cretaceous of China

Ben Creisler

A new paper:

Jingmai K. O’Connor, Da-Qing Li, Matthew C. Lamanna, Min Wang, Jerald
D. Harris, Jessie Atterholt & Hai-Lu You (2016)
A new Early Cretaceous enantiornithine (Aves, Ornithothoraces) from
northwestern China with elaborate tail ornamentation.
Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology (advance online publication)

We provide a detailed description of a well-preserved enantiornithine
specimen (GSGM-05-CM-004) from the Lower Cretaceous (Aptian) Xiagou
Formation of northwestern Gansu Province, China, for which we erect
the new taxon Feitianius paradisi, gen. et sp. nov. This specimen has
a distinctive pelvic morphology and can be further distinguished from
all other Mesozoic birds by a unique caudal plumage formed by multiple
rectricial morphotypes. This newly documented tail morphology reveals
a previously unrecognized level of complexity in the plumage of basal
birds. This complex tail-feather morphology has a parallel in extant
sexually dimorphic birds in which the males have the most altered
tails; thus, we identify this specimen as male. Ornamental tail
morphologies, such as the novel tail plumage described here, dominate
Enantiornithes. This reinforces hypotheses that sexual selection was a
major driving force in the evolution of basal bird plumage.