Feathered Jurassic Dinosaurs Were Fierce and … Fluffy?

Nov 29, 2017

By Dan Robitzski

During the Jurassic period, some feathered dinosaurs — including the 160-million-year-old, crow-size Anchiornis huxleyi — were downright fluffy, unlike many of their sleek, modern bird relatives, a new study finds.

The finding shows that the feathers of Anchiornis, and another feathered dinosaur known as Sinosauropteryx, were simpler — and fluffier — than previously thought. Moreover, the dinosaur fossils in the study indicate that modern wings and feathers likely developed later along the evolutionary timeline than researchers had assumed.

“Overall, it does suggest that truly modern feathers and wings could have evolved later in time or in extinct bird lineages more closely related to modern birds than we might have expected,” Evan Saitta, a paleontologist at the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom, who conducted the research, told Live Science. 

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3 comments on “Feathered Jurassic Dinosaurs Were Fierce and … Fluffy?

  • @OP – Moreover, the dinosaur fossils in the study
    indicate that modern wings and feathers
    likely developed later along the evolutionary timeline
    than researchers had assumed
    .

    “Overall, it does suggest that truly modern feathers
    and wings could have evolved later in time
    or in extinct bird lineages more closely related to modern birds
    than we might have expected,”

    We have discussed feathered dinosaurs on RDFS for the past several years.

    While modern flight feathers are complex, basic feather forms have evolved on various species other than birds.

    Various marine creatures and insects have feather-like structures seving various purposes.

    There are even basic feather-like structures on plants – as I pointed out in this earlier 2013 discussion!

    https://www.richarddawkins.net/2013/06/why-did-dinosaurs-evolve-feathers/#li-comment-30954
    They have evolved for these purposes on a CACTUS – Mammillaria plumosa.

    My#7 comment on the linked discussion, outlines the evolution of more complex feathers on dinosaurs and birds, but unfortunately the link over there is broken.



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  • It seems that there was co-evolution going on with some recognisable modern invertebrate associates of mammals and birds!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-42327784

    Feathered dinosaurs were covered in ticks just like modern animals, fossil evidence shows.

    Parasites similar to modern ticks have been found inside pieces of amber from Myanmar dating back 99 million years.

    One is entangled with a dinosaur feather, another is swollen with blood, and two were in a dinosaur nest.

    Scientists say the discovery, which has echoes of Jurassic Park, is the first direct fossil evidence that ticks fed on the blood of dinosaurs.

    The research is published in the journal, Nature Communications.

    ”Ticks parasitised feathered dinosaurs; now we have direct evidence of it,” co-researcher Dr Ricardo Pérez-de la Fuente of the Oxford University Museum of Natural History told BBC News.

    ”This paper represents a very good example of the kind of detailed information that can be extracted from amber fossils.”

    Amber is fossilised tree resin. The sticky substance can trap skin, scales, fur, feathers or even whole creatures, such as ticks.

    In this case, the researchers found a type of tick, now extinct, that is new to science. They named it, Deinocroton draculi or “Dracula’s terrible tick”.

    “Ticks are infamous blood-sucking, parasitic organisms, having a tremendous impact on the health of humans, livestock, pets, and even wildlife, but until now clear evidence of their role in deep time has been lacking,” said Enrique Peñalver from the Spanish Geological Survey (IGME), the lead researcher on the study.

    Ticks are closely related to spiders, scorpions and mites. They feed on animals and can pass diseases on to people, pets, wildlife and livestock.



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