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Feathered enantiornithine bird fossil from Brazil (free pdf)

Ben Creisler

A new paper in open access:

Ismar de Souza Carvalho, Fernando E. Novas, Federico L. Agnolín,
Marcelo P. Isasi, Francisco I. Freitas & José A. Andrade (2015)
A Mesozoic bird from Gondwana preserving feathers.
Nature Communications 6, Article number: 7141

The fossil record of birds in the Mesozoic of Gondwana is mostly based
on isolated and often poorly preserved specimens, none of which has
preserved details on feather anatomy. We provide the description of a
fossil bird represented by a skeleton with feathers from the Early
Cretaceous of Gondwana (NE Brazil). The specimen sheds light on the
homology and 3D structure of the rachis-dominated feathers, previously
known from two-dimensional slabs. The rectrices exhibit a row of
rounded spots, probably corresponding to some original colour pattern.
The specimen supports the identification of the feather scapus as the
rachis, which is notably robust and elliptical in cross-section. In
spite of its juvenile nature, the tail plumage resembles the
feathering of adult individuals of modern birds. Documentation of
rachis-dominated tail in South American enantiornithines broadens the
paleobiogeographic distribution of basal birds with this tail feather
morphotype, up to now only reported from China.


with video: