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What Color Is Your Dinosaur?

February 4, 2010

By now most of the world agrees with The Pink Flamingo that dinosaurs and birds are one in the same.  While this provides a very logical explanation of my bird phobia, now is not the time to discuss a completely logical reason why one should be terrified of hummingbirds and chickens.  (Chickens are the evolutionary dead end of the T-Rex)   While I rest my case about a rational reason to fear birds, this is about feathers, colored feathers.

“…The research found that the theropod dinosaur Sinosauropteryx had simple bristles — precursors of feathers — in alternate orange and white rings down its tail, and that the early bird Confuciusornis had patches of white, black and orange-brown colouring. Future work will allow precise mapping of colours and patterns across the whole bird….These discoveries confirm the substantial body of evidence that suggests birds evolved through a long line of theropod (flesh-eating) dinosaurs. It also demonstrates that the unique assemblage of characters that make a modern bird — feathers, wings, lightweight skeleton, enhanced metabolic system, enlarged brain and visual systems — evolved step-by-step over some 50 million years of dinosaur evolution, through the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods. “These discoveries open up a whole new area of research,” said Benton, “allowing us to explore aspects of the life and behaviour of dinosaurs and early birds that lived over 100 million years ago.”Furthermore, we now know that the  simplest feathers in dinosaurs such as Sinosauropteryx were only present over limited parts of its body — for example, as a crest down the midline of the back and round the tail — and so they would have had only a limited function in thermoregulation. “Feathers are key to the success of birds and we can now dissect their evolutionary history in detail and see how each feather type — and the fine detail of feather structure — was acquired through time. This will link with current work on how the genome controls feather development.””…”



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