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Eldorado

First dinosaurs probably didn't have feathers

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Eldorado

"Prof Paul Barrett, a dinosaur researcher at the Museum, has conducted an analysis of all the known specimens of dinosaur skin and mapped them onto evolutionary trees to see how they relate.

"The study was carried out with Nicolás Campione and David Evans and published as a contribution to a new book The Evolution of Feathers.

"'To date, most examples of dinosaur feathers have been found in the meat-eating dinosaurs, known as theropods, which is the group that also includes birds,' explains Paul. 'So that is not too much of a surprise.

"'But there's been speculation as to how far back feathers appear in meat-eating dinosaur evolution, and whether feathers might also have been seen in all other dinosaurs.'"

Full monty at UK Natural History Museum: Link

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acute
Posted (edited)

Dinosaurs had feathers, none of them had feathers, old ones had feathers, young ones had feathers, early ones had feathers, later ones had feathers, gay ones had feathers.

:sleepy:

 

Edited by acute

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zygote

Interesting stuff. It never really occurred to me that there might be many more species of feathered dinosaurs yet to be discovered.

The only one I knew about was our friend the great Archaeopteryx (pictured).

 

Archaeopteryx.jpg

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drakonwick

It would be really interesting to see a massive T-Rex decked out in a colorful plume of feathers!

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Orphalesion

The main point of this is the question of how early feathers developed, if they had been present in the earliest dinosaurs, then every type of dinosaur could have potentially been partially or fully covered in feathers. If this is correct and the feathers that modern, avian dinosaurs (birds) have only arose among the theropods then it's less likely that every group of dinosaurs had the potential for feathers or feather-like skin coverings.

39 minutes ago, drakonwick said:

It would be really interesting to see a massive T-Rex decked out in a colorful plume of feathers!


Well T-Rex is was a theropod (the group of dinosaurs that we know for sure had feathered members,including all the surviving ones) and  we do know that some close relatives of T-Rex were partially or fully covered in feather fuzz, but as far as I know we do not have any direct evidence of T-Rex feathers. So it's fair to assume that the T-Rex was at least partially covered in feathers, but we don't know for sure at this point. One argument against a fully feathered T-Rex is that it due to its size it might not have needed a full feather-covering to keep its body temperature intact and we do have some scaly skin impressions from parts of T-Rex's body, but that says nothing about partial feather coverings or things like crests or feathery "manes" like some modern birds of prey have.
Personally I prefer the more feathered reconstructions of T-Rex, but I've been a huge fan of feathery non-avian dinosaurs ever I read about them.

 

2 hours ago, zygote said:

Interesting stuff. It never really occurred to me that there might be many more species of feathered dinosaurs yet to be discovered.

The only one I knew about was our friend the great Archaeopteryx

Oh that's long outdated. By now we know, or have evidence of varying strength, of many, many of mesozoic theropod dinosaurs had full or partial feather coverings (and some from other groups who have evidence for feathers or feather-like structures). As the article writes, for a while it was assumed that it was an ancestral trait of all dinosaurs, with some losing them later in their evolution, but that might not have been the case after all.
But feathers were definitely a feature of mesozoic theropods.

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drakonwick
Posted (edited)
34 minutes ago, Orphalesion said:

The main point of this is the question of how early feathers developed, if they had been present in the earliest dinosaurs, then every type of dinosaur could have potentially been partially or fully covered in feathers. If this is correct and the feathers that modern, avian dinosaurs (birds) have only arose among the theropods then it's less likely that every group of dinosaurs had the potential for feathers or feather-like skin coverings.


Well T-Rex is was a theropod (the group of dinosaurs that we know for sure had feathered members,including all the surviving ones) and  we do know that some close relatives of T-Rex were partially or fully covered in feather fuzz, but as far as I know we do not have any direct evidence of T-Rex feathers. So it's fair to assume that the T-Rex was at least partially covered in feathers, but we don't know for sure at this point. One argument against a fully feathered T-Rex is that it due to its size it might not have needed a full feather-covering to keep its body temperature intact and we do have some scaly skin impressions from parts of T-Rex's body, but that says nothing about partial feather coverings or things like crests or feathery "manes" like some modern birds of prey have.
Personally I prefer the more feathered reconstructions of T-Rex, but I've been a huge fan of feathery non-avian dinosaurs ever I read about them.

 

Personally, I liked the article and the subject in general! We know that feathered birds evolved from dinosaurs. But the question, when did some of these meat-eating dinosaurs evolve feathers...  I also find it interesting that one part of the article went into speculation, as it's been found that other herbivorous species of dinosaurs have been found to be covered in feather like structures.

Then it goes into the the definition of a what a "Feather" is!

"But there's been speculation as to how far back feathers appear in meat-eating dinosaur evolution, and whether feathers might also have been seen in all other dinosaurs.'

This is because there are a couple of examples of other dinosaurs from completely unrelated groups with feather-like coverings, most notably the herbivorous dinosaurs Kulindadromeus, Psittacosaurus and Tianyulong. In addition, it is also thought that some pterosaurs, which are the next closest relatives to dinosaurs, may also have been covered in feather-like structures.  

This has led to speculation that feathers were not just concentrated in the meat-eaters, but that many other groups, like the horned ceratopsians such as Triceratops, may also have had a smattering of feathers. 

But the analysis by Paul and his colleagues shows that this was unlikely, and it supports the idea that true feathers were concentrated only in the group closest to living birds. The few other specimens with feather-like features may instead be examples of convergent evolution."
 

What is a feather?

One of the biggest challenges when it comes to determining whether or not a dinosaur had feathers is the definition of a feather itself.

Skin can do lots of strange things. Crocodiles have ossified parts of their skin into armour plates, mammals developed fur from theirs, while tortoises evolved beak sheaths. Feathers are just another example of what animals have done with the structure of skin.



It's all really interesting!

Edited by drakonwick
To add more.
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Wepwawet

I'm begining to think that the word feather should only be applied to maniraptors. To most people the word feather conjures up an image of the feathers we see on birds (maniraptors), so to describe a dinosaur such as Yutyranus or Kulindadromeus as having feathers, while scientifically correct, is misleading to the general public. What we see on non maniraptoran theropods and basal neornithiscians such as Kulindadromeus, should perhaps be referred to as hair, for better clarity in the appearance of an animal if nothing else.

As for the origins of dinosaur integument, then I'm convinced that we look at Ornithodira/Avemetarsalia, and that while there is convergent evolution within the descendants of that group, feathers/hair is basal to them all before they split into pterosaurs and dinosaurs.

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Carnoferox
7 hours ago, Wepwawet said:

I'm begining to think that the word feather should only be applied to maniraptors. To most people the word feather conjures up an image of the feathers we see on birds (maniraptors), so to describe a dinosaur such as Yutyranus or Kulindadromeus as having feathers, while scientifically correct, is misleading to the general public. What we see on non maniraptoran theropods and basal neornithiscians such as Kulindadromeus, should perhaps be referred to as hair, for better clarity in the appearance of an animal if nothing else.

As for the origins of dinosaur integument, then I'm convinced that we look at Ornithodira/Avemetarsalia, and that while there is convergent evolution within the descendants of that group, feathers/hair is basal to them all before they split into pterosaurs and dinosaurs.

"Feather" should be restricted to branching filaments with barbs, in which case feathers would possibly be found in theropods as basal as allosauroids. The carcharodontosaurid Concavenator has potential quill knobs on its arms, which would indicate that it had pennaceous feathers similar to dromaeosaurids and modern birds. "Protofeather" or just "filament" would be the term for the non-branching forms seen on other dinosaurs. Using "hair" is misleading because these structures are not homologous to mammal hair/fur.

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