Category: Dinosaur

Caudipteryx (Caw-dip-teh-rix), Tail feather, lived in the Early Cretaceous of Asia. Caudipteryx was a small fast running theropod closely related to the ancestors of birds.

Genera and Species

Classification: Theropoda, Tetanura, Coelurosauria, Oviraptorosauria

Species: C. zoui, C. dongi.


Caudipteryx is characterized by paired feathers on either side of the end of the tail, long feathers on its arms and evidence that its entire body may have been covered with feathers of some sort, including down-like covering. All feathers are symmetrical, and together with the arms (shorter than most other non-avian coelurosaurs) a sign they are not used for flight. There are dark bands on the feather fossils that could be signs of the color pattern.


LENGTH: 2 - 3 ft.


Small pointed teeth could indicate a predator of small animals but gizzard stones are characteristic of an herbivore so it is a good candidate for an omnivore. The long legs indicate that it probably could not fly and was a ground dwelling runner that relied on speed for defense. Main predator was Sinornithosaurus and relatives. The tail fan and hand fans are indicative of complex and bird like social behavior related to display.

History of Discovery

Discovered by Ji, Currie, Norell and Ji, 1998 and was found with nearly complete skeletons including feathers impressions and color pattern.


Found in Liaoning China in lake environments the source of many feathered fossil finds preserved by volcanic ash.


1. Paul, G. (2010). The Princeton Field Guide to Dinosaurs (pp. 3604). Princeton, New Jersey: University Press Princeton.

2. Worth, G. (1999). The Dinosaur Encyclopaedia Dev 13 (pp. 605). Scarborough, Western Australia: HyperWorks Reference Software.