Epidexipteryx on a tree banch with tail feathers spread


For many reasons Epidexipteryx is a remarkable little dinosaur. A single, well preserved, pigeon-sized skeleton was found in China's fossil-rich Daohugou area and revealed to the world in 2008. Epidexipteryx had four long ribbon-like display feathers on its tail, almost certainly used to attract a mate or threaten an enemy.

Being covered in short, simple body feathers to keep warm Epidexipteryx lacked the flight feathers seen in other bird-like dinosaurs. This strongly suggests that feathers were used for ornamentation long before flight. Epidexipteryx lived between 152 and 168 million years ago, in the mid to late Jurassic Period. Many of its other features suggest a life in the trees hunting insects, safely away from hungry predators on the ground.

Scientific name: Epidexipteryx

Rank: Genus

Common names:

display feather

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Additional data source: Animal Diversity Web

When they lived

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Jurassic period Jurassic period
The Jurassic began after the mass extinction event that ended the Triassic. Life, however, was quick to recover from this blow and the Jurassic eventually became host to the most diverse range of organisms that Earth had yet seen.

Fossil types

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Exceptional preservation Exceptional preservation
Normally, only the hard parts of animals and plants - shell, bone, teeth and wood - are preserved as fossils. However, every now and then conditions permit the preservation of soft parts and create treasure houses of information for palaeontologists.

BBC News about Epidexipteryx

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