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Origins of Birds and of Their Flight

A great deal of effort has been placed on the century-old controversy of the origin of birds. This topic has been examined by analyzing fossil evidence from skeletons, eggs, and soft-tissue of many bird-like dinosaurs and primitive birds. In addition, this question has been addressed by using behavioral inferences derived from a series of exceptional fossil discoveries. 

All this evidence strongly supports the notion that the closest relatives of birds are to be found among the carnivorous maniraptoran theropods—animals akin to the renowned Velociraptor. Our studies have also been extended to address the closely related question of the origin of avian flight, which we envisioned as originated within maniraptoran theropods capable of flapping their feathered forelimbs while running. Our contributions to the study of the origin of birds also include detailed analysis of a particular lineage of bird-like theropods, the short-armed alvarezsaurids.


1993. Perle, A., Norell, M.A, Chiappe, L. M. & J. M. Clark. Flightless Bird from the Cretaceous of Mongolia. Nature 362: 623-626.

1994. Perle, A., Chiappe, L. M., Barsbold, R., Clark, J. M., & M. A. Norell. Skeletal Morphology of Mononykus olecranus (Theropoda: Avialae) from the Late Cretaceous of Mongolia. American Museum Novitates 3105: 1-29. 

1996. Chiappe, L. M., Norell, M. A., & J. M. Clark. Phylogenetic position of Mononykus from the Upper Cretaceous of the Gobi Desert. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum 39: 557-582.

1997. Padian, K. & L. M. Chiappe. Bird Origins. In The Encyclopedia of Dinosaurs (P. Currie & K. Padian, eds.) 71-79. Academic Press, New York. 

1998. Chiappe, L. M., Norell, M. A & J. M. Clark. The skull of a new relative of the stem-group bird Mononykus. Nature 392: 275-278. 

1998. Hutchinson, J. R. & L. M. Chiappe. The first known alvarezsaurid (Theropoda: Aves) from North America. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 18(3):447-450. 

1998. Forster, C.A., Sampson, S. D., Chiappe, L. M., & D. W. Krause. The theropodan ancestry of birds: New evidence from the Late Cretaceous of Madagascar. Science 279: 1915-1919. 

1999. Burgers, P. & L. M. Chiappe. The wing of Archaeopteryx as a primary thrust generator. Nature 399: 60-62. 

2001. Chiappe, L. M. The rise of birds. In D. E. C. Briggs & P. R. Crowther (eds.), Paleobiology II. Blackwell Science. Pp. 102-106. 

2002. Suzuki, S., Chiappe, L. M., Dyke, G. J., Watabe, M., Barsbold, R., & K. Tsogtbaatar. A new specimen of Shuvuuia deserti Chiappe et al. 1998 from the Mongolian Late Cretaceous with a discussion of the relationships of alvarezsaurids to other theropod dinosaurs. Contributions in Science 494: 1-17. 

2002. Chiappe, L. M., Norell, M. A., & J.A. Clark. The Cretaceous, short-armed Alvarezsauridae: Mononykus & its kin. In L. M. Chiappe & L. Witmer (eds.), Mesozoic Birds: Above the Heads of Dinosaurs, pp. 87-120. University of California Press.

2003. Chiappe, L. M. & A. Vargas. Emplumando dinosaurios: La transición evolutiva de terópodos a aves. Hornero 18(1): 1-11. 

2004. Chiappe, L. M. The closest relatives of birds. Ornitología Neotropical 15 (Suppl.): 101-116. 

2006. Göhlich, U., & L. M. Chiappe. A new carnivorous dinosaur from the late Jurassic Solhnhofen archipelago. Nature.

2008.  Meseguer, J., Sanz-Andres, A., Perez-Grande, I., Franchini, S., Sanz, J.L., Ortega, R. & L.M. Chiappe.  Use of turbulence generators as stall-delaying devices in flight at low Reynolds numbers.  Proceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part G: Journal of Aerospace Engineering.  Vol. 222 no. 7, pp. 1007-1013.