In 2014, the discovery of the famous 'silk bird' or Serikornis sungei, a small pheasant-sized anchiornithid dinosaur from the Tiaojishan Formation in north-eastern China left the paleontologists and researchers from across the world befuddled. The well-preserved dinosaur fossil that dated back to the Early Cretaceous and Late Jurassic epoch contained clear traces of plumage. Serikornis fossil excavated from the Liaoning Province disclosed that just like a typical bird, these theropod dinosaurs possessed an exquisitely feathered body. However, strangely enough, they are believed to be completely terrestrial because they lack the adaptations required for flight. It is believed that the feathers were, in all probability, used for insulation, to appease their mating partners, or to ward off competitive males. The mass of rock in Liaoning Province from which the fossil of the dinosaur was gathered previously yielded well-preserved fossil remains of some other feathered dinosaurs such as Anchiornis and Aurornis. Phylogenetic studies led by Ulysse Lefèvre and his group have classified these dinosaurs among the basal Paraves together with some other paravians of the Late Jurassic in China.
To know more about the origin, evolution, and anatomy of the silk bird keep exploring. If you're interested to know more about other dinosaur species then read through these mind-boggling facts about the Halszkaraptor and Incisivosaurus.
You can easily master the pronunciation of the species by breaking it into four syllables, that is, 'Seh-rik-or-niss'. It is sometimes called by its nickname 'silky'.
Serikornis sungei is an anchiornithid dinosaur that came in small size and heavily feathered body.
Serikornis sungei roamed the earth about 156-161 million years ago from the Late Jurassic to the Early Cretaceous era.
The dinosaur became Extinct about a million years ago but the exact time frame within which they were entirely erased could not be figured out.
The first specimen of the dinosaur was extracted from Liaoning Province in present-day China. The region is popular for its rich fossil remains of feathered dinosaurs, as well as, early bird species.
Most researchers from across the globe are of the view that the terrestrial ecosystem was the most convenient for the dinosaur. Hence, these small-sized dinosaurs might have dwelled in forests to remain safe from larger predators.
Scientists are still oblivious of the social habits of the species. It is not known if it moved in groups, formed pairs, or just preferred to live solitarily.
Although science has enlightened the world with factual pieces of evidence about our pre-historic ancestors, it has not been able to decipher several aspects of the dinosaur world. The lifespan of innumerable dinosaurs like Serikornis sungei still remains shrouded in mystery.
Some information about the origin and evolution of these dinosaurs could be obtained from research conducted on the fossil remains, but a detailed description of reproduction is lacking. However, they were oviparous so it was natural for the females to lay eggs and engage in incubation. Males perhaps took part in courtship rituals by displaying their beautiful plumage.
The plumage of the dinosaur comprised four wings. It had small, sharp teeth and enlarged claws, while the body was covered with various long, silky feathers. Long, pennaceous feathers were found on the legs, whereas, the arm feathers were short, symmetrical. The long pennaceous feathers that are present on the hindlimbs extend to the toes. The anatomy of the dinosaur draws resemblance to certain features of the dromaeosaur, Microraptor. On the other hand, the dinosaur can also be compared with Anchiornis and Aurornis. The dinosaur exhibits a more squared and stouter postacetabular section of the ilium when contrasted with Anchiornis but more quadrangular compared to Aurornis.
Although the structure of the dinosaur could be reconstructed by paleontologists and scientists, the number of bones that constituted the entire being could not be analyzed. Detailed research on the fossil remains of this ground-dwelling dinosaur that inhabited the forests of China around 156-161 million years ago is still underway.
Interactions through vocalizations were common among these pre-historic inhabitants where they emitted high-pitched horn-like sounds. However, specific details about communication among these creatures are unknown.
It is assumed that the average length of Serikornis sungei was somewhere around 1.5 ft (0.45 m). It was even smaller than Microraptor measuring around 2.5 ft (77 cm) in length.
It can be deduced that the dinosaur was agile in its movements owing to its small size and body covered with feathers. Although some researchers contend that the feathers actually slowed down the speed, there's no concrete evidence to prove this.
Serikornis sungei possessed a very small size due to which it was pretty lightweight. Nevertheless, the accurate weight of these feathered dinosaurs cannot be mentioned but since they resembled the size of a common pheasant, it can be assumed that they possessed a weight of around 2-3 lb (0.9-1.4 kg).
Neither males nor females have been attributed separate names. They're just referred to as Serikornis.
The baby of a Serikornis might be termed a hatchling since it hatches from an egg just like a baby bird but no specific names have been associated with it.
These dinosaurs are believed to be carnivorous primarily feeding on insects foraged from the forest floor. However, there's no evidence of their regular dietary components.
Since the dinosaur was carnivorous, it can be said that it portrayed aggressiveness while hunting. Behavior against rivals during the breeding season could have been violent as well but nothing can be stated with certainty.
Scientists are of the view that the evolution of birds resulted in these feathered dinosaurs, but interestingly many dinosaur species couldn't fly and feathers were utilized for other functions. For instance, Serikornis feathers weren't of much use in flight as they lacked barbules. Most probably, these feathers came to use during the breeding period or for insulating purposes.
The term 'serikos' is derived from the Greek language implying 'silk', while 'ornis' stands for 'bird'. The dinosaur was named after the celebrated paleontologist, Sun Ge who made the first specimen available for research. He also made the proposition about the silky texture of the dinosaur's plumage.
Did you know that the 'silk bird' couldn't really take flight from treetops or engage in aerial displays? Despite the presence of feathers on the legs and arms, these dinosaurs were not capable of flight due to the lack of barbules. As per Ulysse Lefèvre, the stiff feathers of the wings added to the bodyweight failed to create the necessary thrust required for counteracting gravity, consequently making flight impossible. They were therefore ground-dwelling dinosaurs who perhaps scampered about on the terrestrial forest floors. However, it cannot be ensured whether these dinosaurs were completely flightless.
Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly dinosaur facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other creatures from our Buriolestes facts, or Heterodontosaurus facts for kids.
You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable winged dinosaurs coloring pages.
Main image by Emily Willoughby ([email protected], http://emilywilloughby.com)