Home > Lifestyle > Features
Thursday July 31, 2014 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Wednesday August 6, 2014 MYT 3:25:53 PM
by deborah netburn
Evidence is mounting that other dinosaurs had feathers, or at least proto-feathers.
If you've visited a dinosaur exhibit in the last five years you know that at least some of the scaly, reptilian-looking creatures most of us imagined were in fact plumed. That is, in addition to scales, they had feathers too.
But the recent discovery of a small downy dinosaur in Siberia suggests that feather-like structures on dinosaurs may have been even more widespread throughout the dinosaur world than was previously thought.
The best evidence for feathered dinosaurs comes from a series of discoveries in north-eastern China, beginning in the 1980s. Hundreds of millions of years ago this area was covered in forest, filled with animals and dotted with lakes.
Those lakes are key, because their sediments preserved not just the bones of the dead animals that fell to their bottoms, but also some of their soft tissue – skin and feathers as well.
From these discoveries, scientists were able to conclude that at least the theropod group of dinosaurs was sporting bird-like feathers about 200 million years ago – 50 million years before the first bird-like animal, the Archeopteryx, came into existence.
But the evidence is mounting that other dinosaurs had feathers, or at least proto-feathers.
In a new study published in the journal Science, a team of researchers from Europe describes a small ornithopod dinosaur discovered in south-eastern Siberia.
The dinosaur, dubbed Kulindadromeus zabaikalicus, was about 1.5m (5ft) in length, walked on its two back legs and was probably a plant eater. It also appears to have had three different types of feather-like structures covering large portions of its body.
The research team, lead by Pascal Godefroit of the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences, stops short of calling these structures feathers, but it does say some of them are similar to the down on certain modern chicken breeds, while others are more complex.
Luis Chiappe, director of the Dinosaur Institute at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, who was not involved with the study, said the fossils described did not appear to be as pristinely preserved as some of the fossils that have been uncovered in China. But he still finds the paper intriguing.
“For a long time we really only knew dinosaurs from their bones, and we just assumed they were scaly creatures like lizards or crocodiles,” he said. “This paper contributes to a larger body of evidence that tells me we have grossly underestimated the ability of these dinosaurs to generate all sorts of skin appendages, whether they are hairs or feathers or something else.”
The next step, he said, is to learn more about the structure of these appendages and to figure out what they were used for.
“I think in the coming years we are going to get a tremendous amount of information about dinosaurs, and the origin of some of these structures that are still lingering in their descendants today,” he said. – Los Angeles Times/McClatchy-Tribune Information Services
Tags / Keywords:
Science Technology, Science, palaeontology, feather dinosaurs
STEM up for more scientists
Multi-nation drill tests disaster response
Fuji X-T10: The digicam for the budget-conscious
Balancing work and life
Chroma Squad: Colourful champions
Guiding kids to play it safe in the water
Nescafé Blend & Brew quick and easy way for singer to have her morning cuppa
Tasteful eats for all seasons
Providing relief for token sum
‘Ancestral Home of Tun Tan Siew Sin’ unveils family and Baba Nyonya history
Have a 'whale' of a good time in Queensland
Riding in aid of special kids
Ex-model to be admitted to Hospital Bahagia
Restful repose in a capsule
Copyright © 1995-2015 Star Media Group Berhad (ROC 10894D)(Formerly known as Star Publications (Malaysia) Berhad)