Wing bone geometry reveals active flight in Archaeopteryx - Université de Rennes Access content directly
Journal Articles Nature Communications Year : 2018

Wing bone geometry reveals active flight in Archaeopteryx


Archaeopteryx is an iconic fossil taxon with feathered wings from the Late Jurassic of Germany that occupies a crucial position for understanding the early evolution of avian flight. After over 150 years of study, its mosaic anatomy unifying characters of both non-flying dinosaurs and flying birds has remained challenging to interpret in a locomotory context. Here, we compare new data from three Archaeopteryx specimens obtained through phase-contrast synchrotron microtomography to a representative sample of archosaurs employing a diverse array of locomotory strategies. Our analyses reveal that the architecture of Archaeopteryx's wing bones consistently exhibits a combination of cross-sectional geometric properties uniquely shared with volant birds, particularly those occasionally utilising short-distance flapping. We therefore interpret that Archaeopteryx actively employed wing flapping to take to the air through a more anterodorsally posteroventrally oriented flight stroke than used by modern birds. This unexpected outcome implies that avian powered flight must have originated before the latest Jurassic.
Fichier principal
Vignette du fichier
Voeten_et_al_-_Nature_Communication-2018.pdf (1.37 Mo) Télécharger le fichier
Origin : Publisher files allowed on an open archive

Dates and versions

hal-01732997 , version 1 (14-03-2018)



Dennis F. A. E. Voeten, Jorge Cubo, Emmanuel de Margerie, Martin Röper, Vincent Beyrand, et al.. Wing bone geometry reveals active flight in Archaeopteryx. Nature Communications, 2018, 9 (1), pp.923. ⟨10.1038/s41467-018-03296-8⟩. ⟨hal-01732997⟩
482 View
103 Download



Gmail Facebook X LinkedIn More