Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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More than you may want to know about the evolution of feathers

New discovery pushes origin of feathers back by 70 million years

In a new work published today in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution, a team from Nanjing, Bristol, Cork, Beijing, Dublin, and Hong Kong show that pterosaurs had at least four types of feathers:

–          simple filaments (‘hairs’)

–          bundles of filaments

–          filaments with a tuft halfway down

–          down feathers.

“We focused on clear areas where the feathers did not overlap and where we could see their structure clearly. They even show fine details of melanosomes, which may have given the fluffy feathers a ginger colour. … we couldn’t find any anatomical evidence that the four pycnofibre types are in any way different from the feathers of birds and dinosaurs. Therefore, because they are the same, they must share an evolutionary origin, and that was about 250 million years ago, long before the origin of birds.”

I was taught that pterosaurs probably had fur, not feathers. Nope. Very snazzy revision to our understanding of the early evolution of feathers.

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1 Comment More than you may want to know about the evolution of feathers

  1. Elaine T

    The variety of feather on the critter isn’t surprising, nothing has just one type. cool discovery, though.

    And it reminds me of the fact that birds are the dinosaurs that survived.

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