Scientists Ascertain Earliest Feather Appears on Dinosaurs

Chinese scientists have ascertained that the earliest feather appeared on dinosaurs through finding the homologous links between bird feathers and the down-like integumentary structure of dinosaurs.

The British authoritative journal Nature, Thursday, published the find jointly made by Xu Xing and Zhou Zhonghe with the Chinese Academy of Sciences' Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology together with Richard Prum from the U.S. Kansas University.

The three scientists who study the origins of dinosaurs, avian paleontology and modern birds have worked together on a widely disputed feathered dinosaur fossil unearthed in China. The Sinornithosaurus belonged to the dromaeosaurid family, which may date back 124.6 million years.

Xu Xing and the other two scientists discovered that the integumentary filaments covering head, neck, limbs and tail of Sinornithosaurus possessed two outstanding features of bird feathers. The filaments are then proved to be primitive feather.

Meanwhile, the research conforms to the feather evolution pattern found by biologists. The two kinds of primitive feather on the fossil correspond to the second and third phase of the pattern.

The scientists unraveled that feathers appeared earlier than the origin of birds and birds aviation. Rather than flying, the feather probably came into being in order to adjust to the reptile 's body temperature or attract the opposite sex, they deduced.

"The proved primitive feather structure on the Sinornithosaurus further backed the hypothesis that birds originated from dinosaur," said Xu Xing, who studies dinosaur bones, during an interview with Xinhua.

The international academic circle for long time heatedly discussed the dinosaur-bird relationship and flight through gilding between trees. Dinosaurs having feathers is among the top debated issues.

(Xinhua 03/08/2001)

In This Series

New Evidence for Dinosaur-Bird Links Found

Smallest Dinosaur Fossil Discovered in Liaoning

Complete Fossilized Dinosaur Excavated in Northeast China

Fossil of New Genus Dinosaur Discovered

Dinosaur Fossil Found in Guangyuan

Fossil of Dinosaur Footmarks Found in Inner Mongolia



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