Model of a feathered Deinonychus. Image Credit: PD - Domser
While some dinosaurs did have feathers, this trait is believed to be the exception rather than the rule.
The discovery of feather imprints on dinosaur fossils has lead to a lot of speculation over just how many of these prehistoric reptiles would have been adorned with a bird-like plumage. Some scientists believe that most of the dinosaurs would have had them, while others are not so sure.
Eager to get to the bottom of this mystery, palaeontologists Paul Barrett David Evans set up a database covering all known discoveries of dinosaur skin imprints. By identifying those with feathers and analyzing the relationships between different species, they were able to ascertain that only a small number of dinosaurs were likely to have had them.
"I’d go so far as to say that all dinosaurs had some sort of genetic trait that made it easy for their skin to sprout filaments, quills and even feathers," said Barrett. "But with scales so common throughout the family tree, they still look like they are the ancestral condition."
Source: Nature.com | Comments (4)