Jingmai K. O’CONNOR , ZHENG Xiao-Ting, HU Han, WANG Xiao-Li & ZHOU Zhong-He (2016)
The morphology of Chiappeavis magnapremaxillo (Pengornithidae: Enantiornithes) and a comparison of aerodynamic function in Early Cretaceous avian tail fans.
Vertebrata PalAsiatica (advance online publication)
We provide a complete description of the skeletal anatomy of the holotype of Chiappeavis magnapremaxillo, the first enantiornithine to preserve a rectricial fan, suggesting that possibly rectricial bulbs were present in basal members of this clade. Notably, Chiappeavis preserves a primitive palatal morphology in which the vomers reach the premaxillae similar to Archaeopteryx but unlike the condition in the Late Cretaceous enantiornithine Gobipteryx. If rectricial bulbs were present, pengornithid pygostyle morphology suggests they were minimally developed. We estimate the lift generated by the tail fan preserved in this specimen and compare it to the tail fans preserved in other Early Cretaceous birds. Aerodynamic models indicate the tail of Chiappeavis produced less lift than that of sympatric ornithuromorphs. This information provides a possible explanation for the absence of widespread aerodynamic tail morphologies in the Enantiornithes.