Tuesday, January 27, 2009

More Evidence of Dinosaurs With Feathers

The Liaoning shale fossil beds, which Donald Prothero mentions extensively in his chapter called "Dinosaurs Evolve—And Fly!" in his book Evolution: What the Fossils Say and Why it Matters, have yielded the remains of a dinosaur that had feathers over almost all of its body. In a story for Foxnews by Jeanna Bryner, the emergence of feathers has now been pushed back to 125 mya.

These feathers had a central shaft with veins branching out from either side, paleontologists said. Other feathers on the head, neck and trunk were long and broad, with no branching.

They were not for flight, but might have kept the dinosaurs warm and looking good, said Xing Xu of the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing.

This is the first of several steps that some of these theropods underwent in their transformation to birds.

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