As regular CFZ-watchers will know, for some time Corinna has been doing a column for Animals & Men and a regular segment on On The Track... particularly about out-of-place birds and rare vagrants. There seem to be more and more bird stories from all over the world hitting the news these days so, to make room for them all - and to give them all equal and worthy coverage - she has set up this new blog to cover all things feathery and Fortean.

Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Feathers were the exception rather than the rule for dinosaurs

Survey of dinosaur family tree finds that most had scaly skin like reptiles.

Birds evolved from dinosaurs, and dinosaur fossils are often covered with impressions of feathers, which made some palaeontologists speculate whether feathers were a common trait that appeared early in their history. Now a team analysing feathers on the overall dinosaur family tree argues this is taking things too far.

Palaeontologists have known for about two decades that theropods, the dinosaur group that contained the likes of Tyrannosaurus andVelociraptor and from which modern birds evolved, were covered in feathery structures from early on in their history.

By contrast, the ornithischian lineage — which contained animals such as Triceratops, Stegosaurus and Ankylosaurus — and the huge, long-necked dinosaurs in the sauropod lineage were considered to be scaly, similar to modern reptiles. Indeed, all evidence pointed in this direction until the discovery, beginning in 20021, 2, of a few ornithischians with filament-like structures in their skin. This led to speculation that feather-like structures were an ancestral trait for all dinosaur groups.

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