Jules · Portfolio
A Glimpse into Feather Evolution
Thanks so much for rocking through this with me, Paul! So epic…
Sinosauropteryx prima, a strictly terrestrial animal from the Yixian formation, is the first feathered fossil found! S. prima showed some color determination and had 64 vertebrae in its tail.
Epidexipteryx hui (“Hu’s display feather”), found in China from the middle to upper Jurassic, is the first fossil showing ornamental feathers, four of which extended as long, ribbon-like tail feathers lacking filaments. E. hui also shows body feathers coming from a membrane-like structure.
Archaeopteryx is commonly referred to as the “oldest known bird,” and is still considered by many to be the first true bird, as it shows well-developed flight feathers exhibiting asymmetry. Many species varieties have been found, one including a melanosome to show at least one black feather.
Confuciusornis, found in the Yixian from the early Cretaceous, is the first feathered fossil with a toothless beak; this is the most abundant genus from the Yixian.
General Information/Angiosperm Evolution:
The Yixian Formation in Northeast China provides an incredible view into the evolution of feathered animals, spanning 11 million years during the early Cretaceous. Most of the organisms in this painting were found here, where much volcanic ash covered and preserved a coniferous forest; wetlands, lakes, and seed-bearing non-flowering plants dominated the earth until the radiation of angiosperms…
Until the advent of flowers, earth flora was dominated by seed-bearing plants such as conifers, ferns, and ginkgoes. Here you find depicted a coniferous forest similar to what you may have found in Northeast China. Conifers greatly diminished after the angiosperm radiations. No continuous fossil evidence shows how flowers evolved.
The oldest fossilized angiosperm found to date is Archaefructus liaoningensis from the Yixian formation; though this fossil left questions to the exact nature of its floral status, Archaefructus eoflora found in Kansas shows evidence of two carpels and one stamen, showing true floral bisexuality.
There is a common debate as to whether the first angiosperms were non-woody herbaceous plants or of a magnoliid origin. Archaeanthus linnenbergen (miraculously signed by JZS, a mystery of evolution) show that angiosperms resembling recent magnoliids existed at the beginning of floral time.
September 22, 2013