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Protopteryx fengningensis (1 Viewer)

Fred Ruhe

Well-known member
Luis M. Chiappe, Liu Di, Francisco J. Serrano, Zhang Yuguang & Qingjin Meng, in press

Anatomy and Flight Performance of the Early Enantiornithine Bird Protopteryx fengningensis: Information from New Specimens of the Early Cretaceous Huajiying Formation of China

The Anatomical Record. in press.

Abstract: https://anatomypubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/ar.24322

The Early Cretaceous (∼131 Million Years Ago) Protopteryx fengningensis is one of the oldest and most primitive enantiornithine birds; however, knowledge of its anatomy has largely been limited to the succinct description of two specimens (holotype and paratype). This study describes two new specimens of P. fengningensis preserving most of the skeleton and plumage, and it therefore adds significantly to understanding the morphology of this important species and the character evolution of enantiornithine birds. The well‐preserved plumage of these specimens also affords a quantitative assessment of the flight performance of P. fengningensis. Our aerodynamic considerations indicate that this early enantiornithine was capable of intermittent flight (bounding or flap‐gliding), thus marking the earliest occurrence of such energy‐saving aerial strategy.



Fred Ruhe

Well-known member
Systematic Paleontology
Aves Linnaeus, 1758.
Pygostylia Chiappe, 2002.
Ornithothoraces Chiappe, 1995.
Enantiornithes Walker, 1981.
P. fengningensis Zhang and Zhou, 2000.
Holotype. IVPP V11665, nearly complete skeleton contained in two slabs

Referred specimens. IVPP V11884, nearly complete skeleton contained in two slabs. IVPP V11884 was identified as the paratype by Zhang and Zhou (2000)—this specimen was incorrectly listed as the holotype in Zhang and Zhou’s (2000) Fig. 3. BMNHC Ph 1060 and BMNHC Ph 1158, these two new specimens are also contained in two slabs (Figs. 2 and 3). They are articulated and complete, preserving much of their plumage. An incomplete specimen (BMNHC Ph 1424) contained in two slabs from Weichang County (Hebei Province) may also be assignable to this species; nonetheless, this specimen requires further preparation and study.

Geographic and stratigraphic provenance. All documented specimens come from the Sichakou locality in Fengning County, northern Hebei Province, northeastern China (Fig. 1) (if BMNHC Ph 1424 were to be confirmed as belonging to P. fengningensis, it would slightly extend the geographic range of this species to the northernmost portion of Hebei Province). All the Sichakou specimens were recovered from shales interbedded in fluviolacustrine sequence rich in pyroclastics sediments (Jin et al., 2008). While the Sichakou locality is currently interpreted as being contained within the Huajiying Formation, it was formerly regarded as belonging to the younger Yixian Formation (see Zhang and Zhou, 2000). The age of the Huajiying Formation has been estimated as approximately 131 MYA (Jin et al., 2008), corresponding to the Hauterivian Epoch of the Cretaceous.

Here are pictures of the holotype and the new referred specimen.



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