Feathered Dinosaurs and the Origins of Flight

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Kids meet Deinonychus



Therizinosaur: The Ultimate Big Bird


Feathered Dinosaurs and the Origin of Flight, an exhibition at the Arizona Museum of Natural History from March 1 through September 28, presents exciting evidence from remarkable fossils discovered in China that are bringing new answers to the on-going debate about the relationship between dinosaurs and birds, as well as how they evolved the ability to fly.

The exhibit is a rare opportunity to see firsthand a collection of 35 fossils that are national treasures on loan from the People’s Republic of China. These fossils reveal a new understanding of how birds are related to dinosaurs. Also on display are many life-size recreations that demonstrate startling changes in how dinosaurs have been portrayed over the years.





1.Caudipteryx fossil

2.Caudipteryx fossil in ultraviolet light


1. The fossil of Caudipteryx preserved not only the bones, but also impressions of feathers from the wings and tail. Caudipteryx was originally thought of as a small feathered dinosaur, but it was actually a very primitive bird which had lost the ability to fly, much like the Ostrich of today. The Dinosaur Museum © 2004.

2. The skeletal remains in the fossil of Caudipteryx fluoresce in ultra-violet light and appear a bright golden color. The Dinosaur Museum © 2004.



3. Caudipteryx sculpture. The life restoration of Caudipteryx based on information from the fossil revealed that it had a very bird-like appearance. Caudipteryx was not capable of flying. Sculpture by Stephen Czerkas, © 2005.





4. Deinonychus sculpture head shot. With a mouth full of teeth, Deinonychus may not appear to be very bird-like, but fossils now indicate that it was a bird. Sculpture by Stephen Czerkas, © 2002.



5. Deinonychus sculpture full body. Deinonychus was initially thought to be a bird-like dinosaur that represented what the ancestors of birds were like before flight had fully evolved. It is now known thatDeinonychus had ancestors that were capable of flying which means that it was really a bird which had lost the ability to fly. Sculpture by Stephen Czerkas, © 2002.





6. Cryptovolans, a four winged bird. The flight feathers on the hind legs gives Cryptovolans the appearance of being a bird equipped with four wings. It was originally thought that animals like Cryptovolans did not have any wings because they supposedly represented the ancestors of birds before flight had evolved. The discovery that Cryptovolans had the ability to fly revealed that dromaeosaurs were actually birds. Sculpture by Stephen Czerkas, © 2005.



7. Cryptovolans head shot. Cryptovolans means "hidden-flyer". It was a primitive bird that still had teeth. Sculpture by Stephen Czerkas, © 2005.





8. Shenzhouraptor fossil. Shenzhouraptor was a prehistoric bird that resembled the famedArchaeopteryx. But even though it still had a long reptilian tail, Shenzhouraptor had evolved a greater flying ability. The Dinosaur Museum © 2005.

Feathered Dinosaurs and the Origin of Flight was organized and is circulated by The Dinosaur Museum, Utah in association with the Fossil Administration Office, Liaoning, China and the Liaoning Beipiao China Shihetun Museum of Paleontology.