STL Science Center

STL Science Center

05 March 2014

Menacing Clouds?

©Apsaravis (
Perhaps the menacing part of the name Rahonavis is meant to represent the difficult nature of the taxonomic argument that sometimes still swirls around it; it could also be in reference to the cloudy nature of the familial relationships. It was most likely not in relation to the idea that Rahonavis was a powered flier, as it appears to have lacked the ability to fly under its own power. Forster et al. asserted that Rahonavis and Archaeopteryx were related. The pelvic girdles of the two "dino-birds" are similarly adapted to flight, but appear to be independently derived. Other flight adaptations of the skeleton are manifested in the arms, including quill knobs raised on the ulna; these are present on extant birds. The dromaeosaurid characters of the skeleton have been discussed at length, but to summarize them again, we can say they are manifested most visibly in the feet and hands as well as the pubis, skull, and tail. The similarities between Rahonavis and dromaeosaurids appear to be more numerous than those between Rahonavis and birds; but does this make Rahonavis more bird-like than dinosaurian?

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