Thursday, July 31, 2014

"...all Dinosaurs had feathers"

The report (HT John Wilson) begins: "The first ever example of a plant-eating dinosaur with feathers and scales has been discovered in Russia. Previously only flesh-eating dinosaurs were known to have had feathers so this new find indicates that all dinosaurs could have been feathered."

The big thing here is the "all" I have been waiting for. Conceptually, this is huge.

The other key term is "Ornithschian", one of the two large divisions of Dinosaurs-- the plant- eating ones that often walk on four legs rather than two, including the duckbills and the Triceratops and its relatives. Some of us have thought  since the eighties that the meat- eating two legged Dinos, up to and including T rex (as Robert Bakker called it, "the 12000 pound Roadrunner from Hell"), were all feathered, and they did give rise to birds. But though we knew that some had weird bristly structures, it was less clear that the other group were feathered. Now it seems that from the start, maybe even before the Dino family split on two, that they came out of the Triassic extinctions wearing feathers. (There was a greater extinction  event BEFORE the Dinos, (see Out of Thin Air by Peter Ward), and its low- oxygen conditions may have caused the Dino- bird line to develop the air sacs, hollow bones, and efficient breathing that allow birds to fly over the Himalayas and "Brontosaurs"  to be agile moving animals even though they were bigger than my house).

In honor of all this, my favorite over- the- top depiction of the new standard, a feathered T rex attacking a "hairy" young Triceratops, and a dead Velociraptor by John Conway.


2 comments:

Chas Clifton said...

Great painting.

Kind of related: display of huge Apatosaurus at the Museum of Western Colorado in Grand Junction.

Anonymous said...

Alas, saw a promo for "Jurassic Park 4"--not a feather in sight.....L.B.