Skip to main content
Log in

Liaoxiornis delicatus gen. et sp. nov., the smallest Mesozoic bird

  • Notes
  • Published:
Chinese Science Bulletin


Recently, a very small and complete bird specimen was collected from theConfuciusornis-bearing Yixian. Formation. This finding represents a new kind of Mesozoic bird, namedLiaoxiornis delicatus. It is characterized by a short skull with teeth, a long neck and a very small sternum with only posterior process; the humeral head is not internally curved, and the hindlimbs are longer than the forelimbs.Liaoxiornis delicatus is not only much smaller thanConfuciusomis, but also smaller thanCathayomis and other early Cretaceous birds. It is the smallest bird known from Mesozoic deposit.Liaoxiornis provides new evidence indicating that the early adaptive radiation of birds is complicated.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

Subscribe and save

Springer+ Basic
EUR 32.99 /Month
  • Get 10 units per month
  • Download Article/Chapter or Ebook
  • 1 Unit = 1 Article or 1 Chapter
  • Cancel anytime
Subscribe now

Buy Now

Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.

Instant access to the full article PDF.

Similar content being viewed by others


  1. Hou, L. H.,Mesozoic Birds of China, Nantou County: Ferlg-Huang-Ku Bird Park of Taiwan Provincial Government, 1997, 1–228.

    Google Scholar 

  2. Martin, L. D., Stewart, J. D., Teeth in Ichthyornis (Class: Aves),Science, 1977, 195: 1331.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  3. Zhou Z. H., The discovery of early Cretaceous bids in China,Courer Forschungsinstitus Senckenberg, 1995, 181: 9.

    Google Scholar 

  4. Hou L. H., Martin, L., Zhou Z. al. Early adaptive radiation of birds: evidence from fossils from northeastern China,Science, 1996, 274: 1164.

    Article  PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  5. Hou, L. H., Martin, L., Zhou, Z. al., Archaeopteryx to opposite birds-missing link from the Mesozoic of China,Vert. PalAsiat., 1999.

  6. Feduccia, A.,The Origin and Evolution of Birds, New Haven: Yale University Press, 1996:

    Google Scholar 

  7. Ostrom, J. H., On the origin of birds and avian flight,Major Features of Vertebrate Evolution, Paleontological Society, Short Courses in Paleontology, 1994(7): 160.

  8. Padian, K., Chiappe, L. M., The origin and early evolution of birds,Biol. Rev., 1998, 73: 1.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


About this article

Cite this article

Hou, L., Chen, P. Liaoxiornis delicatus gen. et sp. nov., the smallest Mesozoic bird. Chin. Sci. Bull. 44, 834–838 (1999).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: