Title

Life History, Sexual Dimorphism and 'Ornamental' Feathers in the Mesozoic Bird Confuciusornis sanctus

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2009

Publication Source

Biology Letters

Volume

5

Issue

6

Inclusive pages

817-820

ISBN/ISSN

17449561

Peer Reviewed

yes

Abstract

The life history of Confuciusornis sanctus is controversial. Recently, the species’ body size spectrum was claimed to contradict osteohistological evidence for a rapid, bird-like development. Moreover, sexual size dimorphism was rejected as an explanation for the observed bimodal size distribution since the presence of elongated rectrices, an assumed ‘male’ trait, was uncorrelated with size. However, this interpretation (i) fails to explain the size spectrum of C. sanctus which is trimodal rather than bimodal, (ii) requires implausible neonate masses and (iii) is not supported by analogy with sexual dimorphisms in modern birds, in which elongated central rectrices are mostly sex-independent. Available information on C. sanctus is readily reconciled if we assume a bird-like life history, as well as a pronounced sexual size dimorphism and sexually isomorphic extravagant feathers as frequently observed in extant species.

Disciplines

Medical Sciences

 
 

Link to Original Published Item

http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rsbl.2009.0574