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Similicaudipteryx yixianensis
"Yixian similiar to Caudipteryx"

similicaudipteryx

Similicaudipteryx is a somewhat enigmatic oviraptorosaur from the Jehol group. Three specimens are referred to it, but none have been described in detail or properly compared to its possible close realtive, Caudipteryx. Three growth stages are known. The largest is based on the holotype specimen apparently collected (ironically) from the Jiufotang formation, not the Yixian. Two juvenile specimens are actually known from the Yixian, but whether these specimens are really Similicaudipteryx and not a new species has never been tested. The Jiufotang specimen is largely incomplete, lacking a skull and feather impressions. It does, however, have a pygostyle, probably in order to support the large fan of tail feathers found in the older of the immature referred specimens. As you can see in my other caudipterid restorations, this tail is an order of magnitude larger than any so far known for Caudipteryx.

Interestingly, the youngest juvenile has much more obviously Caudipteryx-like proportions of the wing and tail, most similar to C. zoui. Famously though, its remiges and rectrices are of a more "primitive" form, the feather stage where the shafts are composed of a solid ribbon only barbed at the end. These are also found in the display feathers of Epidexipteryx, Confuciusornis and Protopteryx. Richard Prum (a well known feather development expert) has speculated that the apparent ribbon-feathers of the Similicaudipteryx juvenile could simply be feathers in mid-molt, when new primaries sprout from basal "tubes". It would be strange for the tubes to be so long, though.

Feathers aside, the main difference between Similicaudipteryx and Caudipteryx are the former's well-developed third digit, and the pygostyle (possibly indicating an even larger tail in the adult, which I restored here). It also seems to have proportionally larger feet, especially the adult.

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Image Details:
Media: Digital, Adobe Photoshop CS3 with WACOM Graphire 3
License: ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

DESCRIPTION
Length: 1.3m (4.2ft)
Weight: 4kg (8.8lbs)
Location: Yixian & Jiufotang Formations, Liaoning, China
Time: Aptian age, Early Cretaceous (125-120ma)

CLASSIFICATION
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Stem-Aves
Order: Caenagnathiformes
Family: Caudipteridae
Genus: Similiaudipteryx
Species: S. yixianensis

SYSTEMATICS
Sauropsida
Diapsida
Archosauria
Ornithosuchia
Dinosauria
Theropoda
Coelurosauria
Maniraptora
Oviraptorosauria
Caudipteridae

Caudipteryx scale

Similicaudipteryx scale




 

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