Enantiornithine Bird with Diapsidian Skull and Its Dental Development in the Early Cretaceous in Liaoning, China


E-mail: gongep@mail.neu.edu.cn


Abstract A large number of enantiornithine birds are discovered from the Early Cretaceous Jiufutang Formation in western Liaoning, China. They are all small-sized birds with a few small teeth. The enantiornithine bird from the Jiufutang Formation in the Shangheshou area, Chaoyang, Liaoning Province reported in this paper is the largest individual known in all enantiornithine birds of the Early Cretaceous. However, its teeth possess a feature of pseudoheterodont. Some different development stages of the new teeth substitute the earlier stages and the stages of development are preserved in this specimen. This development pattern is similar to that of Archaeopteryx and alligator but not dinosaur. A well-developed postorbital was also preserved in the skull, which was a diapsidian skull like that of Confuciusornis. Additionally, the distinctive preservation of its prefrontal distinguishes it from other enantiornithine birds of the Early Cretaceous.