Jul 7, 2012

Did All Dinosaurs Have Feathers?

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Exceptionally well-preserved fossil evidence shows feathers on an early, meat-eating dinosaur, suggesting that plumage on the giant creatures was far more common than previously known.

Previously, paleontologists have found feathers only on coelurosaurs—birdlike dinosaurs that evolved later than so-called megalosaurs such as Sciurumimus.

Because Sciurumimus is not closely related to coelurosaurs, the new fossil suggests feathered dinosaurs were the norm, not the exception, Rauhut said.

"Probably all dinosaurs were feathered," he added, "and we should say good bye to the familiar image of the overgrown lizards."

. . .

According to the study authors, this "obviously" suggests that dinosaurs' common ancestor had feathers, which passed the trait on to each branch of the dinosaur family tree. (See pictures of big, bad, bizarre dinosaurs in National Geographic magazine.)

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