All Dinosaurs May Have Had Feathers – Science News

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Early dinosaurs probably looked a lot more like Big Bird than scientists once suspected. A newly discovered, nearly complete fossilized skeleton hints that all dinosaurs may have sported feathers.


“It suggests that the ancestor of all dinosaurs might have been a feathered animal,” says study author Mark Norell, a paleontologist at the American Museum of Natural History in New York.

Researchers have found feathered dinosaurs before, but this one is more distantly related to birds than any previously discovered. CalledSciurumimus albersdoerferi, it belongs to a group of massive dinosaurs called megalosaurs that had sharp teeth, claws and a heavy-duty frame. The specimen — a youngster that lived about 150 million years ago — is only 70 centimeters long, but it could have grown up to 10 meters, about the length of a school bus. 

The fossil’s feathers aren’t the only things getting paleontologists all aflutter. The skeleton’s condition is exciting, too.

“It’s a gorgeous specimen,” says Luis Chiappe, a paleontologist at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. “Probably one of the best meat-eating dinosaurs ever preserved.”

Written By: Meghan Rosen
continue to source article at sciencenews.org

11 COMMENTS

  1. This is nonsense. A 150-million-year-old species is at least 80 million years too young to be an ancestor of all dinosaurs. Indeed, a 150-million-year-old species having feathers is not only nothing new; it’s characteristic of pretty much all of our earliest feathered specimens. That’s why we say it’s the approximate age of birds! (Well, there’s other evidence too, of course.)

  2.   Researchers have found feathered dinosaurs before, but this one is more
    distantly related to birds than any previously discovered.

    We discussed feather evolution in February 2011:- http://richarddawkins.net/arti….

    @link:disqus  Bits of smooth, scaleless skin anchor long, fine feathers to the
    tail. Unlike modern feathers, these “protofeathers” or “type 1 feathers”
    look like simple strands of hair. The thin, flexible feathers are
    ancient versions of the broad, branching plumage —“type 2 feathers” —
    that adorn modern birds. Though the feathers look different, both are
    made from the same basic ingredients.
    In life, the hairlike feathers would have given the dinosaur a thick coat and a bushy tail. (Part of the dinosaur’s name, Sciurumimus,
    derives from the Greek for “squirrel mimic.”)  “It looks like it was a
    pretty fluffy kind of thing,” Norell says. “Kind of like a baby chick.”

    Feathers appear to have evolved in a series of forms from simple bristles to the elaborate and diverse forms we see today, as they developed branches and eventually hooks to zip them together..  Dinosaurs seem to have had feathers for insulation and display for millions of years before flight feathers evolved – leading to birds.

    Interestingly, it is possible for feather-like plumes to evolve quickly (in evolutionary or geological time-scales) as is illustrated with the feathery spines on this Cactus! – http://www.mammillarias.net/ga

    On the Cactus they provide weather protection, shade, and collect dew.

  3. I dont think the article implied that THIS species of dinosaur was the ancestor of ALL dinosaurs, but that this feathered example is surprisingly “more distantly related to birds that previously dicovered” ie it had type-1 feathers but didnt look morphologically ‘bird-like’ as other avian dinosaurs, ie archeopteryx.

    It may be that feathers arose much earlier and appear in much more branches of the dinosaur part of the tree than previously thought. I dont think it suggests that ALL dinosaurs ie a triceratops or a stegosaur had feathers though, just that early ancestors MAY have been feathered and later descendants lost them, while others kept them.

    It states that this is a youngster, so perhaps these were ‘downey fur’ that became harder feathers in adulthood or that this ‘fur’ was just to help younsters keep warm and was lost in adolescence.

    I could of course be totally wrong, I dont know, I am a layman and am speculating too but its an interesting find. We will just have to wait for more evidence I guess :-)

  4. From another article: “This finding has confirmed other hypotheses.  It has been suggested that the life style of predatory dinosaurs changed considerably during growth. This specimen shows a remarkable difference to adult megalosaurs in the dentition, clearly indicating it had a different diet-probably small insects and other small prey as evidenced by the slender pointed teeth at the tip of the jaws”.

  5. Still, the discovery that there are more (pre) feathered dinosaurs than
    previously thought just notched up the street cred of all the birds. I
    mean, with ancestors like that, a sparrow expects some respect!

  6. I was wondering why some fossils have a chiseled outline. I find this to be very distracting and destructive.

    It is because palaeontologists have very carefully chiselled away the stone to reveal the fossil.

  7.  

    Jos Gibbons – This is nonsense. A 150-million-year-old species is at least 80 million
    years too young to be an ancestor of all dinosaurs. Indeed, a
    150-million-year-old species having feathers is not only nothing new;
    it’s characteristic of pretty much all of our earliest feathered
    specimens.

    Absolutely! – for the benefit of other readers –

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M… – The Mesozoic Era is an interval of geological time from about 250
    million years ago to about 65 million years ago
    . It is often referred
    to as the Age of Reptiles because reptiles, namely dinosaurs, were the dominant terrestrial and marine vertebrates of the time. The era began in the wake of the Permian-Triassic event, the largest mass extinction in Earth’s history, and ended with the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event, another mass extinction which is known for having killed off non-avian dinosaurs, as well as other plant and animal species.

  8. Thanks Alan, Yes this seems like a common sense answer (that my brain could not think up.) I have seen this on other fossils and I dislike the harsh outline. I guess if they were to blend it into the rest of the rock, they would need to do more destruction and have an aesthetic sense of when to stop chiseling.

  9. This find is certainly interesting, but it’s nowhere near as exciting as the article makes it out to be, for the reason Jos Gibbons outlines. Feathered dinosaurs are still currently restricted to theropods, though quills on a Psittacosaurus fossil suggest there may have been some parallel evolution in the ceratopsians at least. It’s a long way from suggesting “all dinosaurs may have had feathers”. A fossil from the Early or Mid Triassic could support such a claim, but not one from the Late Jurassic.

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