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Temporal range: Late Cretaceous, 85 Ma
Skeleton restoration
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Clade: Dinosauria
Clade: Saurischia
Clade: Theropoda
Clade: Avialae
Clade: Euornithes
Clade: Patagopterygiformes
Family: Patagopterygidae
Alvarenga & Bonaparte, 1992
Genus: Patagopteryx
Alvarenga & Bonaparte, 1992
P. deferrariisi
Binomial name
Patagopteryx deferrariisi
Alvarenga & Bonaparte, 1992

Patagopteryx is an extinct monotypic genus of patagopterygiforms that lived during the Late Cretaceous, around 80 mya, in what is now the Sierra Barrosa in northwestern Patagonia, Argentina.[1] About the size of a chicken, it is the earliest known unequivocal example of secondary flightlessness: its skeleton shows clear indications that the ancestors of Patagopteryx were flying birds.


Located in strata of the Santonian Bajo de la Carpa Formation, the original remains were discovered by Oscar de Ferrariis, Director of the Natural History Museum of the Comahue National University in Neuquén around 1984–5. He passed them onto noted paleontologist José Bonaparte, who described the species Patagopteryx deferrariisi in 1992.


The Patagopteryx had feet with fused bones, much like modern birds. The bird did not have a wishbone, meaning that it would have been impossible for it to have had the muscles necessary for flying. The legs had very short femurs, characteristic of a running animal. The second toe has a curved claw, but it does not appear to have been used as a weapon. It was omnivorous, and probably traveled in flocks across the plains of South America.[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ H. M. F. Alvarenga and J. F. Bonaparte. 1992. A new flightless landbird from the Cretaceous of Patagonia. Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History, Science Series 36:51-64 [J. Hunter/J. Hunter/J. Hunter]
  2. ^ Dixon, Dougal (2007). The world encyclopedia of dinosaurs & prehistoric creatures (Hardcover ed.). London: Lorenz. p. 318. ISBN 9780754817307.