[D] Praeornis sharovi [~/~]
Saurischia Theropoda Tetanurae Coelurosauria Maniraptora Avialae [Praeornithes Praeonithiformes Praeornithidae]
Balabansai Formation, Auli (Mikhailovka) locality, Chimkent Province, Kazakhstan
PIN 2585 / 32, flight feather.
Relatively large bird, the size of a crow; edges of the barbs absolutely flat since they do not break up into barbules; barbs have pulp caps; outher and inner sides of barbs flattened and broadened, thus showing some similarity to vanes; the vanes located near the dorsal side of the barb shaft, which is filled by the pulp caps; barbs form a complete vane; the number of the barbs in one centimeter is not more than four; the plane of the vane is twisted; the outher vane is narrower than the inner vane; the distal portion of the shaft of the flight feather is notaceably flexed in the horizontal plane; the pulp caps are large; pulp caps in the shaft are larger than ones in the barbs; ends of the barbs are clearly pointed.
This feather-like specimen is possibly the earliest known record of a feather, but is doubted by some (Nessov, 1992) discussed the relationships of Praeornis sharovi rejecting the designation of this specimen as avian, and supporting the conclusions of Bock (1986) who regarded this enigmatic fossil as a plant. Later investigations of this specimen, using scanning electron microscopy (Glazunova et al., 1991) supports its avian assignment, but the particular indentity of this specimen remains unresolved. (Kurochkin, 2004)