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Reassessment of the wing feathers of Archaeopteryx lithographica suggests no robust evidence for the presence of elongated dorsal wing coverts.


ABSTRACT: Recently it was proposed that the primary feathers of Archaeopteryx lithographica (HMN1880) were overlaid by long covert feathers, and that a multilayered feathered wing was a feature of early fossils with feathered forelimbs. The proposed long covert feathers of Archaeopteryx were previously interpreted as dorsally displaced remiges or a second set of impressions made by the wing. The following study shows that the qualitative arguments forwarded in support of the elongated covert hypothesis are neither robust nor supported quantitatively. The idea that the extant bird wing with its single layer of overlapping primaries evolved from an earlier multilayered heavily coveted feathered forelimb as seen in Anchiornis huxleyi is reasonable. At this juncture, however, it is premature to conclude unequivocally that the wing of Archaeopteryx consisted of primary feathers overlaid with elongated coverts.

SUBMITTER: Nudds RL 

PROVIDER: S-EPMC3977963 | BioStudies | 2014-01-01

SECONDARY ACCESSION(S): 10.1371/journal.pone.0093963

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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