Museum Frankfurt


Caudipteryx zoui

Order: Saurischia
Suborder:   Theropoda
Infraorder:  Coelurosauria
Diet:   plants
Weight: approx. 10 kilogrammes
Length: approx. 0,9 metres
Age:    136-120 million years (Lower Cretaceous)
Fossil site:   Liaoning province (China)

at Senckenberg:

cast of the fossil plate and
reconstruction of the skeleton in 3D

This dinosaur combines typical features of Theropod dinosaurs and birds. Its skeleton was constructed similarly to that of a typical Coelurosauria and a flightless bird; that is, when running, its movement was done mainly below the knee. It possessed a powerful beak. In it upper jaw, there were three teeth on both left and right sides. In the rump area were found the stomach or gizzard stones, which ground up the vegetable food.
As can be seen by a closer look at the gray margin around the fossil body outline, the Caudipteryx was feathered.
Both arms and the tip of the short tail carried longer feathers. Most of the feathers were constructed like down. With some specimens, it is possible to determine that on the arms, there were classical contour feathers: quill, shaft and barb (consisting of barbules and hooklets). Thus, the Caudipteryx's feathers were very similar to those of modern birds.
Caudipteryx was, along with Protarchaeopteryx and Sinosauropteryx, which were also found in the province of
Liaoning, among the first dinosaurs which had feathers.
With his little arms and the relatively short, but symmetrically constructed feathers, Caudipteryx could not fly, although it had a wishbone, just like a bird. Some scientists consider the question is whether Caudipteryx, rather than being a dinosaur, is an early bird which had already again lost its ability to fly.

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