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.

Thursday, 3 July 2014

First Birds Valued Fashion Over Flight


Archaeopteryx, the iconic early bird that lived around 150 million years ago, sported feathered “trousers” on its hind limbs as well as other decorative feathers, and researchers now believe at least some non-avian dinosaur and bird feathers evolved for flashy display before they were later recruited for flight.

They've finally found a fossilized mosquito full of prehistoric blood! So a real "Jurassic Park" is right around the corner, right?

That's the conclusion of a new study, published in the journal Nature, which describes a remarkable new specimen of Archaeopteryx that includes extensive feather preservation.

“The excellent preservation of the feathers in the new specimen helps to clarify many contentious issues,” senior author Oliver Rauhut of Ludwig-Maximilians University Munich told Discovery News. “The specimen not only shows the wing and tail feathers in great detail, but also body plumage and feathers along the hind limbs…(which are) similar to the feather ‘trousers’ found in many modern birds of prey.”

The researchers determined that quill-like feathers covered Archaeopteryx’s entire body up to its head. Its hind limb feathers were symmetrical, indicating they didn't help with flight.

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