Brief Communication | Published:


The 'feathers' of Longisquama

Nature volume 408, page 428 (23 November 2000) | Download Citation



The elongated dorsal appendages of the reptile Longisquama insignis , from the Triassic of Kyrgyzstan1, have recently been reinterpreted as the first record of feathers in a non-avian tetrapod2 — long predating the feathers of the oldest known bird, Archaeopteryx. Here we present evidence that the dorsal scales of Longisquama are not feathers, and that they are in fact strikingly different from avian feathers. We conclude that Archaeopteryx remains the oldest known feathered tetrapod.

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  1. 1.

    Paleontol. Zhur. 1970, 127–130 (1970).

  2. 2.

    et al. Science 288, 2202–2205 (2000).

  3. 3.

    The Origin and Evolution of Birds (Yale Univ. Press, New Haven, 1996).

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  1. *Department of Biology, University of Toronto in Mississauga, 3359 Mississauga Road, Mississauga, Ontario L5L 1C6, Canada.  e-mail:

    • Robert R. Reisz
    •  & Hans-Dieter Sues


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Correspondence to Hans-Dieter Sues.

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