Dinosauria Online

Say hello to: CAUDIPTERYX

CAUDIPTERYX

Pronounced: cow - DIP - tuh - riks
Diet: Carnivore (Meat-Eater)
Name Means: Zou's tail feathers
Length: 3 feet (1 m)
Height: 2 feet (less than 1 m)
Weight: 15 pounds (6 - 7 kilos)
Time: 140 million years ago

Caudipteryx is one of several types of feathered dinosaurs recently discovered in China. These new finds have caused one of the greatest controversies in modern paleontology. They have many of the characteristics that were expected in a "missing link" between dinosaurs and birds, but they lived millions of years after Archaeopteryx, the first known bird ancestor.

Caudipteryx was a turkey-sized dinosaur that had feathers, but was unable to fly. It had short forelimbs, large eyes and long, sharp, spiked teeth. Quick and agile, it had long slender legs. The most prominent feature of Caudipteryx had to be its tail, which was covered with 6-inch-long tail feathers. The feather fossils show bands of dark and light that may have been color, giving us an idea of how Caudipteryx looked.

Some of the evolutionary advantages feathers may have provided to a flightless animal may include the ability to control body heat, some lived in a wetland area, it is easy to imagine it wading into shallow water on its long legs to spear small fish and amphibians with its long sharp teeth. All known remains of Caudipteryx have been found with gastroliths, or "gizzard stones" about an inch in size. This indicates Caudipteryx did not chew its food, probably swallowing small prey whole.

Did Archaeopteryx and Caudipteryx descend from a common ancestor? Or was Caudipteryx a dinosaur sharing a convergent evolution with birds. This will be a long and lively debate.