Today we conclude our foray into giant birds with a non-bird.
I could not resist this one. Today’s taxa are not birds, but very convergent. Hope you like it as we revisit the very bird-like Zhenyuanlong, with its long wing feathers, and its giant descendant, Tyrannosaurus rex (Fig. 1). We looked at this heretical pair revealed by phylogenetic analysis for the first time in the large reptile tree earlier here.
Tyrannosaurus rex (Osborn 1905) Late Cretaceous, 65 mya, 12.3 m in length, was derived from a sister to Sinocalliopteryx and was a sister to bird-like dinosaurs in the large reptile tree. Several varieties are known. Some are more robust. Others are gracile and smaller.
Zhenyuanlong suni (Lü and Brusatte 2015, JPM-0008) Early Cretaceous, 122 mya, over 1m in length, was derived from a sister to Tianyuraptorand is an ancestral sister to Tyrannosaurus. The fossil preserves wing feathers and so was considered the largest of the Chinese winged dromaeosaurs. Click here to see the list of traits shared with tyrannosaurs not with dromaeosaurs and to learn more. Note the short torso and tall, narrow orbit. This fossil shows that tyrannosaurs once had flight feathers.
We also looked at
the tiny arms of T-rex earlier here. They were tiny wings.
Lü J and Brusatte SL 2015. A large, short-armed, winged dromaeosaurid (Dinosauria: Theropoda) from the Early Cretaceous of China and its implications for feather evolution. Scientific Reports 5, 11775; doi: 10.1038/srep11775.
Osborn HF 1905. Tyrannosaurus and other Cretaceous carnivorous dinosaurs. Bulletin of the AMNH (New York City: American Museum of Natural History) 21 (14): 259–265.