The color patterns on Anchiornis’s limbs are “quite similar to the Prum is a co- author of the new study and has received funding from the. The new specimen is referred to Anchiornis huxleyi Xu et al. (11) and preserves .. J. Vinther,; D. E. G. Briggs,; R. O. Prum,; V. Saranathan. the vibrant colors that adorned Anchiornis huxleyi, a feathered dinosaur but a creature with a very notable plumage,” said Richard O. Prum.

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Anchiornis is a type of small, four-winged paravian dinosaur. The genus Anchiornis contains only the type species Anchiornis huxleyinamed for its similarity to modern birds.

Anchiornis fossils have been only found in Liaoning, Anchoirnis, in rocks dated to the late Jurassic periodabout million years ago. Anchiornis is known from hundreds of specimens, and given the exquisite preservation of some of these fossils, it became the first Mesozoic dinosaur species for which almost the entire lrum appearance could be determined, and an important source of information on the early evolution of birds.

Huxley ‘s near-bird” in Latin. Anchiornis huxleyi was a small, bipedal theropod dinosaur with a triangular skull bearing several details in common with dromaeosauridstroodontidsand primitive avialans. Like other early paravians, Anchiornis was small, about the size of a crow.

Like all paravians, it was covered in feathers, though it also had scales on certain parts of the body. The wings, legs, and tail supported long but relatively narrow vaned feathers. Two types of simpler, downy plumaceous feathers covered the rest of the body, as in Sinornithosaurus: Long, simple feathers covered almost the entire head and neck, torso, upper legs, and the first half of the tail.

The rest of the tail bore pennaceous tail feathers rectrices. Studies of Anchiornis specimens using laser fluorescence have revealed not only anchiornid details of the feathers, but also of the skin and muscle tissue.

Taken together, this evidence has given scientists a nearly complete picture of Anchiornis anatomy. Additional studies indicate that Anchiornis had body plumage that consisted of short quills with long and independent, flexible barbs. Prrum barbs stuck out from the quills at low angles on two opposing blades. This also gave each feather an overall forked shape and resulted in the theropod possessing a softer textured and “shaggier” appearing plumage than is seen in modern birds.

Like other early paraviansAnchiornis had large wings made up of pennaceous feathers attached to the arm and hand. The wing of Anchiornis was composed of 11 primary feathers and 10 secondary feathers.

The primary feathers in Anchiornis were about as long as the secondaries, and formed a rounded ancgiornis. The wing feathers had curved but symmetrical central quills, with small and thin relative size, and rounded tips, all indicating poor aerodynamic ability. In anchiorns related dinosaurs Microraptor and Archaeopteryxthe longest wing feathers were closest to the tip of the wing, making the wings appear relatively long and pointed.

However, in Anchiornisthe longest wing feathers were those nearest the wrist, making the wing broadest in anchioris middle and aanchiornis near the tip for a more rounded, less flight-adapted profile. Like other maniraptoransAnchiornis had a pro patagiuma flap of skin connecting the wrist to the shoulder and rounding out the front edge of the wing.

In Anchiornisthis part of the wing was covered in covert feathers which smoothed the wing and covered the gaps between the larger primary and secondary feathers. However, unlike modern birdsthe covert feathers of Anchiornis were not arranged in tracts or rows.


In modern birds, the coverts usually cover only the upper portion of the wing, with most of the wing surface made up of uncovered flight feathers. In some Anchiornis fossils, on the other hand, several layers of covert feathers seem to extend down to cover most of the wing’s surface, so that the wing is essentially made of multiple layers of feathers, rather than a layer of broad feathers with only their bases hidden by layers of coverts.

This multi-layered wing arrangement might have helped strengthen the wing, considering that the primary and secondary feathers themselves were narrow and weak. The wing included three lrum fingers; however, unlike in some more primitive theropods, the longest two fingers were not separate, but were bound together by the skin and other tissue forming the wing, so Anchiornis was functionally two-fingered.

Anchiornis – Wikipedia, wolna encyklopedia

Like the ancchiornis, the skin around the bottom of the fingers was covered in tiny, rounded scales. Unlike the toes, the flesh around the underside of the finger bones was twice as thick as the bones themselves and lacked distinct pads; instead, the fingers were straight and smooth without any major creases at the joints. Scales and skin around the fingers is very rarely preserved in fossils of early pennaraptoransthe only notable exceptions being Anchiornis and Caudipteryxwhich had similar thick, scaly fingers associated with its wings.


In addition to the front wings, Anchiornis had long, vaned feathers on the hind legs. This has led many scientists to call Anchiornis a four-winged lrumalong with similar animals prun Microraptor and Sapeornis. Anchiornis had very long legs, which is usually an indication that an animal is a strong runner. However, the extensive leg feathers indicate that this may be a vestigial trait, as running animals tend to have reduced, not increased, wnchiornis or feathers on their legs.

The first toe, or halluxwas not reversed as in perching species. Also unlike Microraptorthe hindwing feathers were longest closer to the body, with the foot feathers being short and directed downward, almost perpendicular to the foot bones. Unlike many other paravians, the feet of Anchiornis except for the claws were completely covered in feathers, though these were much anchkornis than the ones making up the hindwing.

The underside of the toes were formed into fleshy pads with distinct creases at the joints. The foot pads were covered in small, pebble-like scales.

Scales were also present on the top of the feet but these are very hard to see in all known fossils. Ina team of scientists examined numerous points among the feathers of an extremely well-preserved Anchiornis specimen in the Beijing Museum of Natural History to survey the distribution of melanosomesthe pigment cells that give feathers their color. By studying the types of melanosomes and comparing them with ajchiornis of modern birds, the scientists were able to map the specific colors and patterning present anciornis this Anchiornis when it was alive.

Though this technique had been used and described for isolated bird feathers and portions of other dinosaurs such as the tail of SinosauropteryxAnchiornis became the first Mesozoic dinosaur for which almost the entire life coloration was known note that the tail of this specimen was not preserved. The crown feathers were mainly rufous with a gray base and front, and the face had rufous speckles among predominantly black head feathers.

The forewing and hindwing feathers were white with black tips. The coverts shorter feathers covering the bases of the long wing feathers were gray, contrasting the mainly white main wings. The larger coverts of the wing were also white with gray or black tips, forming rows of darker dots along mid-wing.

These took the form of dark stripes or even rows of dots on the outer wing primary feather coverts but a abchiornis uneven array of speckles on the inner anfhiornis secondary coverts. The shanks of the legs were gray other than the long hindwing feathers, and the feet and toes were black. In contrast to the study, only gray-black type melanosomes were found. Even when the crown feathers were examined, none of the rounder, rufous-type melanosomes were seen. The scientists who conducted this second study suggested several possible explanations for this discrepancy.

First, the different preservation of melanosomes or different investigative techniques might have influenced the results of the original study. Second, because the Beijing Museum specimen was smaller, it is possible that the rufous color was replaced as these animals aged.

Third, it is possible that there were regional differences or even different species of Anchiornis which had different color patterns in their plumage.

The first known fossil of Anchiornis its type specimen was dug up in the Yaolugou area of Jianchang CountyLiaoningChina.

These anchiorniz have been difficult to date, but most studies have concluded that they belong to the Tiaojishan Formation of rocks dated to the late Jurassic period Oxfordian age It is an articulated skeleton missing the skull, part of the tail, and the right forelimb.

The name Anchiornis huxleyi was chosen by Xu and colleagues in honor of Thomas Henry Huxleyan early proponent of biological evolutionand one of the first to propose a close evolutionary relationship between birds and dinosaurs. The generic name Anchiornis comes from combining the Ancient Greek words for “nearby” and “bird”, because it was interpreted as important in filling a gap in the transition between the body plans of anchiornls and dinosaurs.

A second specimen came to light around the same time, and was given to a team of scientists from Shenyang Normal University by a local farmer when they were excavating at the Yaolugou dig site.

According to the farmer, this second specimen had been found nearby in the area of Daxishan, also from Tiaojishan Formation rocks of about the same age as the first Anchiornis. Two scientists visited the site in order to compare the new fossil with the rock types found there, and were able to confirm that the new specimen probably did anchiorrnis from the area the farmer described.


They were able to anchiornie up several fish fossils and a third Anchiornis fossil. The farmer’s fossil underwent study which was published on September 24, anchiornnis, in the journal Nature.

It is larger and much more complete than the first specimen, and preserved long wing feathers on the hands, arms, legs and feet, showing that it was a four-winged dinosaur similar to Microraptor. While only a few specimens have been achiornis in detail, many more have been identified and are held in both private collections and museums.

One of these, a nearly complete skeleton missing the anchiornos, also preserving extensive feather remains, snchiornis reported in This fossil also showed evidence that Anchiornis had a feathered crest on its head, and was used to determine the animal’s life coloration. This fossil, a nearly complete skeleton, was prepared and studied by scientists at the Geology Park and identified as an Anchiornis.

It was then used for a scanning electron microscope study of Anchiornis feather microstructure. The study also examined the well-preserved melanosomes of the feathers to determine their color. The scientists involved in the study found that the coloration found for this specimen was different than the color reported for BMNHC PH, and they noted that the BMNHC specimen may not in fact be Anchiornisas it was described before similar species from the same formation had been discovered.

The Shandong Tianyu Museum of Nature in Pingyi CountyChina, for example, was reported to hold specimens of Anchiornis in its collections in While this specimen has yet to be fully described, it was photographed for a article in National Geographic and was used in a study of Anchiornis covert feathers and wing anatomy the following year.

When it was first discovered, the scientists who studied Anchiornis conducted a phylogenetic analysis and concluded that it was an early member of the group Avialaealong with Archaeopteryx. The second specimen of Anchiornis was more complete than the first, and preserved several features which led Hu Dongyu and his colleagues to reclassify Anchiornis as a troodontid.

One study found Anchiornis to be a member of Archaeopterygidaeand it along with Archaeopteryx were considered more primitive than dromeosaurids, troodontids, or avialans. InSankar Chatterjee placed Anchiornis along with Microraptor and other four-winged paravians in a group he called “Tetrapterygidae”, just outside the Avialae, though this was not supported with a phylogenetic analysis.

In a re-evaluation of the Haarlem Archaeopteryx specimen, Anchiornis was found to be in a group with other genera, like EosinopteryxXiaotingiaand was placed in the family Anchiornithidae along with other relatives.

This is similar to the condition in early avians such as Archaeopteryxand the authors pointed out that long forelimbs are necessary for flight. Anchiornis also had a more avian wrist than other non-avialan theropods. The authors initially speculated that it would have been possible for Anchiornis to fly or glide. However, further finds showed that the wings of Anchiorniswhile well-developed, were short when compared to later species like Microraptorwith relatively short primary feathers that had rounded, symmetrical tips, unlike the pointed, aerodynamically proportioned feathers of Microraptor.

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Anchiornix has hindleg proportions more like those of more primitive theropod dinosaurs anchioornis avialans, with long legs indicating a fast-running lifestyle. However, while long legs normally indicate a fast runner, the legs and even feet and toes of Anchiornis were covered in feathers, anchuornis long feathers on the legs, similar to those in the hindwings of Microraptor.

In modern birds, especially those that live on the ground, the lower legs tend to show reduction or even loss of feathers. The skeletal structure of Anchiornis is similar to Eosinopteryxwhich appears to have been a capable runner due to its uncurved rear claws and absence of flight feathers on its tail or lower legs. Anchiornis shared a similar body anchiornnis and the same ecosystem as Eosinopteryxsuggesting different niches and a complex picture for the origin of flight.

Like many modern birds, Anchiornis exhibited a complex pattern of coloration with different colors in speckled patterns across the body and wings, or “within- and among-feather plumage coloration. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Late Jurassic Feathered dinosaurs in a tangle.

Nature The Princeton Field Guide to Dinosaurs. The wings before the bird: