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Soft-tissue in wing of Early Cretaceous enantiornithine bird (free pdf)

Ben Creisler

A new open access paper:

Guillermo Navalón, Jesús Marugán-Lobón, Luis M. Chiappe, José Luis
Sanz & Ángela D. Buscalioni (2015)
Soft-tissue and dermal arrangement in the wing of an Early Cretaceous
bird: Implications for the evolution of avian flight.
Scientific Reports 5, Article number: 14864 (2015)

Despite a wealth of fossils of Mesozoic birds revealing evidence of
plumage and other soft-tissue structures, the epidermal and dermal
anatomy of their wing’s patagia remain largely unknown. We describe a
distal forelimb of an enantiornithine bird from the Lower Cretaceous
limestones of Las Hoyas, Spain, which reveals the overall morphology
of the integument of the wing and other connective structures
associated with the insertion of flight feathers. The integumentary
anatomy, and myological and arthrological organization of the new
fossil is remarkably similar to that of modern birds, in which a
system of small muscles, tendons and ligaments attaches to the
follicles of the remigial feathers and maintains the functional
integrity of the wing during flight. The new fossil documents the
oldest known occurrence of connective tissues in association with the
flight feathers of birds. Furthermore, the presence of an essentially
modern connective arrangement in the wing of enantiornithines supports
the interpretation of these primitive birds as competent fliers.