Letter

Nature 455, 1105-1108 (23 October 2008) | doi:10.1038/nature07447; Received 14 June 2008; Accepted 19 September 2008

A bizarre Jurassic maniraptoran from China with elongate ribbon-like feathers

Fucheng Zhang1, Zhonghe Zhou1, Xing Xu1, Xiaolin Wang1 & Corwin Sullivan1

  1. Laboratory of Evolutionary Systematics of Vertebrates, Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, PO Box 643, Beijing 100044, China

Correspondence to: Fucheng Zhang1 Correspondence and requests for materials should be addressed to F.Z. (Email: zhangfucheng@ivpp.ac.cn).

Recent coelurosaurian discoveries have greatly enriched our knowledge of the transition from dinosaurs to birds, but all reported taxa close to this transition are from relatively well known coelurosaurian groups1, 2, 3. Here we report a new basal avialan, Epidexipteryx hui gen. et sp. nov., from the Middle to Late Jurassic of Inner Mongolia, China. This new species is characterized by an unexpected combination of characters seen in several different theropod groups, particularly the Oviraptorosauria. Phylogenetic analysis shows it to be the sister taxon to Epidendrosaurus 4, 5, forming a new clade at the base of Avialae6. Epidexipteryx also possesses two pairs of elongate ribbon-like tail feathers, and its limbs lack contour feathers for flight. This finding shows that a member of the avialan lineage experimented with integumentary ornamentation as early as the Middle to Late Jurassic, and provides further evidence relating to this aspect of the transition from non-avian theropods to birds.

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