, Volume 96, Issue 1, pp 81–86 | Cite as

Feather-like development of Triassic diapsid skin appendages

  • Sebastian Voigt
  • Michael BuchwitzEmail author
  • Jan Fischer
  • Daniel Krause
  • Robert Georgi
Original Paper


Of the recent sauropsid skin appendage types, only feathers develop from a cylindrical epidermal invagination, the follicle, and show hierarchical branching. Fossilized integuments of Mesozoic diapsids have been interpreted as follicular and potential feather homologues, an idea particularly controversially discussed for the elongate dorsal skin projections of the small diapsid Longisquama insignis from the Triassic of Kyrgyzstan. Based on new finds and their comparison with the type material, we show that Longisquama’s appendages consist of a single-branched internal frame enclosed by a flexible outer membrane. Not supporting a categorization either as feathers or as scales, our analysis demonstrates that the Longisquama appendages formed in a two-stage, feather-like developmental process, representing an unusual early example for the evolutionary plasticity of sauropsid integument.


Fossilized integument Skin appendage Feather evo-devo Longisquama 



This work was supported by the German Research Foundation (DFG II - VO 1466/1–1) and by the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology (Patterson Memorial Grant to JF). We are thankful to Evgenii N. Kurochkin and Vladimir R. Alifanov for access to the type material in Moscow in February 2007, to Susan Turner and Jörg W. Schneider for suggestions and comments, and to Ilja Kogan for his help with the translation of Russian publications and reports.

Supplementary material

114_2008_453_MOESM1_ESM.xls (116 kb)
Electronic supplementary material S1 Complete data table. (XLS 115 KB)
114_2008_453_MOESM2_ESM.xls (80 kb)
Electronic supplementary material S2 Table of data displayed in Fig. 2b. (XLS 79.5 KB)
114_2008_453_MOESM3_ESM.xls (84 kb)
Electronic supplementary material S3 Multivariate analysis. (XLS 84.0 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sebastian Voigt
    • 1
  • Michael Buchwitz
    • 1
    Email author
  • Jan Fischer
    • 1
  • Daniel Krause
    • 2
  • Robert Georgi
    • 1
  1. 1.Geologisches InstitutTechnische Universität Bergakademie FreibergFreibergGermany
  2. 2.Institut für GeowissenschaftenMartin-Luther-Universität Halle-WittenbergHalleGermany

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