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Confuchisornis sanctus
Fossil specimen of Confuciusornis sanctus
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Confuciusornithiformes
Hou et al., 1995
Family: Confuciusornithidae
Hou et al., 1995
Type species
Confuciusornis sanctus
Hou et al., 1995
  • Changchengornis
  • Confuciusornis (type)
  • Eoconfuciusornis
  • Jinzhouornis

Confuciusornithidae is a family of primitive birds from the early Cretaceous Period of China. It consists of four genera. About half of all the confuciusornithid specimens, including reprersentatives of all species, that have preserved feathers possess a pair of distinctive ribbon-like tail feathers, and possessed both shafted and non-shafted (downy) feathers.[1][2]


Confuciusornithidae sizes

Size of different genera, compared to a human.

The family Confuciusornithidae was first named by Hou et al. in 1995 to contain the type genus, Confuciusornis, and assigned to the order Confuciusornithiformes within class Aves.[3] The group was given a phylogenetic definition by Chiappe, in 1999, who defined a node-based clade Confuciusornithidae to include only Changchengornis and Confuciusornis.[1] Sereno expanded this definition to include all species closer to Confuciusornis sanctus than to the modern House Sparrow, Passer domesticus.[4] Jinzhouornis was added to the Confuciusornithidae by Hou, Zhou, and Zhang in 2002,[5], and in 2008, Zhang, Zhou and Benton assigned the newly described genus Eoconfuciusornis to the family.[2]

There are four genera and seven known species:

  • Changchengornis
    • Changchengornis hengdaoziensis
  • Confuciusornis
  • Eoconfuciusornis
    • Eoconfuciusornis zhengi
  • Jinzhouornis
    • Jingzhouornis yixianensis
    • Jingzhouornis zhangjiyingia

E. zhengi predated the other confuciusornithids by 11 million years.


  1. ^ a b Chiappe, Luis M. et. al (1999)
  2. ^ a b Zhang, F. -C., Zhou, Z. -H., & Benton, M. J. (2008)
  3. ^ Hou, L. et. al (1995)
  4. ^ Sereno, P. C. (2005)
  5. ^ Hou, L. H., Zhou, Z. H., & Zhang, F. C. (2002(


  • Chiappe, Luis M.; Shu-An, Ji; Qiang, Ji; Norell, Mark A. (1999). "Anatomy and systematics of the Confuciusornithidae (Theropoda:Aves) from the Late Mesozoic of northeastern China". Bulletin of the American museum of Natural History. 242: 89. 
  • Hou, L.; Zhou, Z.; Gu, Y.; Zhang, H. (1995). "Description of Confuciusornis sanctus". Chinese Science Bulletin. 10: 61–63. 
  • Hou, L. H.; Zhou, Z. H.; Zhang, F. C. (2002). Mesozoic Birds from Western Liaoning in China. Shenyang, China: Liaoning Science and Technology Publishing House.  Unknown parameter |unused_data= ignored (help)
  • Sereno, P. C. (2005). "Stem Archosauria—TaxonSearch". Retrieved 07 Jul 2009.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  • Zhang, F. -C.; Zhou, Z. -H.; Benton, M. J. (2008). "A primitive confuciusornithid bird from China and its implications for early avian flight.". Science in China Series D: Earth Sciences. 51 (5): 625–639. doi:10.1007/s11430-008-0050-3. 
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