STL Science Center

STL Science Center

10 August 2011

Origin Stories

Caudipteryx came from China. More specifically
All Caudipteryx fossils were recovered from the Yixian Formation in Liaoning, China. Specifically, they come from a small area of the Jianshangou bed, near the town of Zhangjiakou. They appear to have been fairly common, though isolated to this small region. The specific region in which Caudipteryx lived was home to the other feathered dinosaurs Dilong and Sinornithosaurus.
Discovering this pair of species has spark large debates within paleontology and caused many different theories to be bounced around, subscribed to, refuted, heralded, and even vehemently ignored. However, all said and done we can describe three camps that have come to exist after the discovery and description of Caudipteryx which had existed in some form or another before but were "reborn" in the sense that they have become noticeable rifts in the paleontology community to this day since the discovery of Caudipteryx and other small feathered animals in China.

The divisions are:
1) The Consensus View: Caudipteryx is a basal non-avian theropod of the clade Oviraptora in the group Maniraptora and therefore a dinosaur through and through. This standpoint usually asserts also that birds came from dinosaurs within the maniraptoran family in terms of origins of evolution.
2) Osmolska, Paul, Lu, and Maryanska's View: Collectively this group of paleontologists, and their assistants, associates, and various other supporters believe that Caudipteryx and other oviraptorids are actually birds. They state that oviraptora is a family of birds, not dinosaurs, and that the oviraptora is a result of an earlier divergence from theropod evolution into the origins of the class aves. Oviratporids, by this view are, therefore, large flightless birds that have come to exhibit some re-evolved traits which make them appear as dinosaurs despite being, basically, large chickens, emus, and ostriches.
3) Martin, Feduccia, Czerkas' View: Larry Martin and a number of other paleontologists feel that birds were never dinosaurs at all and that, at most, they share a common ancestor in the archosauria (before true dinosaurs had evolved) at which point dinosaurs went one way and birds went another, though staying close to their cousins by remaining on the ground and having some features alike. This view states that all maniraptorids- velociraptor, utahraptor, dromaeosaurus, caudipteryx, etc- are actually large flightless birds and never were, nor could be, dinosaurs. (see below image)

1 Maniraptoriformes, 2Ornithomimosauria, 3 Maniraptora, 4Therizinosauroidea, 5 Therizinosauridae, 6Alvarezsauridae, 7Oviraptorosauria, 8Oviraptoridae, 9Ingeniinae, 10 Paraves, 11 Avialae, 12 Aves, 13 Ornithurae, 14Deinonychosauria, 15Troodontidae, 16Dromaeosauridae, 17Unenlagiinae, 18Microraptoria, 19Dromaeosaurinae

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