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Science

Siberian Discovery Suggests Almost All Dinosaurs Were Feathered 139

Posted by Soulskill
from the tyrannosaurus-big-bird dept.
A new study published in Science (abstract) suggests that most dinosaurs were covered with feathers. This conclusion was drawn after the discovery of fossils belonging to a 1.5-meter-long, two-legged dinosaur called Kulindadromeus zabaikalicus. "The fossils, which included six skulls and many more bones, greatly broaden the number of families of dinosaurs sporting feathers—downy, ribboned, and thin ones in this case—indicating that plumes evolved from the scales that covered earlier reptiles, probably as insulation." Its distinctiveness from earlier theropod fossil discoveries suggests that feathered dinosaurs appeared much further back in history than previously thought. Paleontologist Stephen Brusatte said, "This does mean that we can now be very confident that feathers weren't just an invention of birds and their closest relatives, but evolved much deeper in dinosaur history. I think that the common ancestor of dinosaurs probably had feathers, and that all dinosaurs had some type of feather, just like all mammals have some type of hair."
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Siberian Discovery Suggests Almost All Dinosaurs Were Feathered

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  • Whelp. (Score:5, Funny)

    by An Ominous Coward (13324) on Friday July 25, 2014 @12:24PM (#47532729)

    Time to remake Jurassic Park. And while he's at it, Speilberg can change all the guns to flashlights!

    • Time to remake Jurassic Park. And while he's at it, Speilberg can change all the guns to flashlights!

      Nah, with all the T-Rexes looking like chickens it just won't be the same... although... just imagine the Kentucky fired drumsticks.

      • Re:Whelp. (Score:4, Funny)

        by Jason Levine (196982) on Friday July 25, 2014 @12:39PM (#47532879)

        You think a T-Rex "chicken" wouldn't be scary? Imagine a 15 foot tall, 40 foot long bird of prey with a 4 foot jaw and 9 inch long teeth. Your average adult human would be finger food - a bite or two and then gone. This gets even more terrifying if you imagine them as giant cockatoos (and if you know how nasty cockatoos can be).

        • by es330td (964170)
          My son (currently 6) is obsessed with a creature called the Terror Bird [wikipedia.org]. Standing ten feet tall they were apex predators in South America. I would be plenty scared of a meat eating bird that big.
        • Giant Chickensaurus Rex from Elmo in Grouchland?

          http://img3.wikia.nocookie.net... [nocookie.net]

        • Re:Whelp. (Score:5, Funny)

          by cream wobbly (1102689) on Friday July 25, 2014 @01:30PM (#47533387)

          A T. rex wouldn't consider an adult human "finger food" because it doesn't know it has fingers, silly.

        • You think a T-Rex "chicken" wouldn't be scary?

          And imagine what a Jurassic geek (*) would look like.

          (*) geek: a carnival performer often billed as a wild man whose act usually includes biting the head off a live chicken.

        • Re:Whelp. (Score:5, Interesting)

          by shadowrat (1069614) on Friday July 25, 2014 @02:29PM (#47533873)

          You think a T-Rex "chicken" wouldn't be scary? Imagine a 15 foot tall, 40 foot long bird of prey with a 4 foot jaw and 9 inch long teeth. Your average adult human would be finger food - a bite or two and then gone. This gets even more terrifying if you imagine them as giant cockatoos (and if you know how nasty cockatoos can be).

          I worked a good many years in an exotic pet store. My area of expertise was reptiles and, in my time, i was bitten by all manner of things that most people don't want to get bitten by. Of all the animals i would deal with, the birds were the things that really terrified me.

          Reptiles, yeah, you gotta repect them, esspecially the highly venemous ones. But, they are predictable and easily outsmarted. Birds can be fierce opponents. They are intelligence combined with effective weapons. They can deduce it's better to ignore the leather glove and aim for the exposed forearm. There was one macaw that i swear would pretend to be nice just to lull me into a vulnerable position.

          Not a day goes by that i'm not thankful that i live in a world where i only have to worry about sharks, big cats, bears, wolves, and reptiles. I would be terrified having to worry about a bird that might get me.

          • My in-laws have a cockatoo thus my choice of that bird. (They used to have two but one died about 10 years ago.) These birds' jaws are powerful enough to crush bone and intelligent enough to plan out actions. Like you said, a reptile might strike you but you'd see it coming. My in-laws' cockatoo does what that macaw you mentioned did. She will act all sweet and want you to pet her... until she decides to bite your finger off. She hasn't succeeded yet, but that's because we're extra cautious about body

        • by Nethead (1563)

          I have an African Grey, I've seen him humble a pit bull.

          • by Rakarra (112805)

            I have an African Grey, I've seen him humble a pit bull.

            Was it with his withering sarcasm?

            (African Greys are quite chatty and very intelligent, for those unfamiliar with the breed).

            • They have intelligence and nasty beaks/claws. If their wings aren't clipped, they can also fly and attack from all angles. That's a very bad combination for anyone an African Grey (or Macaw, Cockatoo, etc) decides to attack.

            • Re:Whelp. (Score:4, Funny)

              by Nethead (1563) <joe@nethead.com> on Friday July 25, 2014 @06:48PM (#47535627) Homepage Journal

              Kind of. He went up to the dog and recited a perfect cat meow. That confused the hell out of the dog. Then, while the dog was befuddled, he let out his patented SCRECH and the pit bull ran under the bed.

              • by Rakarra (112805)

                This sounds familiar. One summer when staying at my grandmother's house, my brother taught her African Grey to meow, solely to annoy her. I'd walk by the room and I'd hear a meeeeeeeeeeeeeoww. It sounded like a doppler effect, like the cat was in a car going by at 50 mph.

        • by ganjadude (952775)
          in jurassic russia, giant chicken eats YOU!
        • by jaided (531853)

          Your average adult human would be finger food - a bite or two and then gone..

          I'm fairly sure that "Human McNuggets" is the Palaeontological term for this.

        • by PopeRatzo (965947)

          Imagine a 15 foot tall, 40 foot long bird of prey with a 4 foot jaw and 9 inch long teeth.

          You wanna watch how you talk about my wife.

        • Sheldon would be so terrified...

        • by cthulhu11 (842924)
          I hatched 6 emus a while back. I used to play chase with them for exercise -- rattites grow quickly and their legs need exercise. When they were running toward me the t-rex factor was a bit unnerving.
      • by roc97007 (608802)

        Time to remake Jurassic Park. And while he's at it, Speilberg can change all the guns to flashlights!

        Nah, with all the T-Rexes looking like chickens it just won't be the same... although... just imagine the Kentucky fired drumsticks.

        ...but having the T-Rexes looking like chickens, and changing their roar to something less intimidating [youtube.com] would fit well with changing all the guns to flashlights.

      • by kencurry (471519)
        fat kid: "... a 6-ft tall turkey, big deal!"

        Dr. Grant: "...just remember, you are alive when they start to eat you, so try to show a little respect, okay?"
      • by Dutch Gun (899105)

        I wonder how much resistance a theory like this gets just because feathered dinosaurs wouldn't look nearly as cool as the ones we see pictured today? The emotional part of my brain finds itself not wanting to spoil my childhood images of what dinosaurs looked like by pasting silly-looking feathers all over them, even while the intellectual part is berating it for being silly. I suppose it's the same sort of phenomenon as the outcry over Pluto being "demoted" from planet status. Humans are funny.

        • You can always take the So Long and Thanks for All the Fish view:

          Mrs E. Kapelsen of Boston, Massachusetts was an elderly lady, indeed, she felt her life was nearly at an end. She had seen a lot of it, been puzzled by some, but, she was a little uneasy to feel at this late stage, bored by too much. It had all been very pleasant, but perhaps a little too explicable, a little too routine.

          With a sigh she flipped up the little plastic window shutter and looked out over the wing.

          At first she t

        • I was pretty confused when suddenly dinosaurs were considered to have been all sorts of different colours. When I was a kid they were pretty much green, greyish or brown depending on the illustration. Now they are thought to have been orange, purple, blue etc. AND covered in feathers! What next! I know. They could talk, and sing and dance. Yes!
        • I wonder how much resistance a theory like this gets just because feathered dinosaurs wouldn't look nearly as cool as the ones we see pictured today?

          For me, the resistance comes when I look at the large reptiles of today which are descended from dinosaurs.They don't have feathers.

          • by radtea (464814)

            For me, the resistance comes when I look at the large reptiles of today which are descended from dinosaurs.They don't have feathers.

            Which large reptiles are those? And which dinosaurs are they descended from? And how did dinosaurs, which were all killed at the KT boundary, manage to have descendents?

            Dinosaurs are reptiles with their legs under their bodies. This makes them distinct from other reptiles (the kinds we have today, which are not descended from dinosaurs) which have their legs off to the side.

            Mammals also managed the legs-under-the-body trick, and birds (which are descended from dinosaurs, unlike all modern reptiles, none of

          • by the gnat (153162)

            large reptiles of today which are descended from dinosaurs.

            Uh, nope. Crocodilians for certain predate dinosaurs and evolved in parallel. I'm pretty sure the other big lizards did too.

        • by ganjadude (952775)
          i dont know, I think feathered dinos can look much cooler than the original reptillian dinos. just look at The comparison of the raptor from the reptillian view to the feathered renditions now
        • I wonder how much resistance a theory like this gets just because feathered dinosaurs wouldn't look nearly as cool as the ones we see pictured today? The emotional part of my brain finds itself not wanting to spoil my childhood images of what dinosaurs looked like by pasting silly-looking feathers all over them, even while the intellectual part is berating it for being silly. I suppose it's the same sort of phenomenon as the outcry over Pluto being "demoted" from planet status. Humans are funny.

          If anything they'd look cooler with feathers. It also explains a whole lot, like how they were able to survive in the Arctic.

        • What happened to Slashdot lately?

          There's a xkcd for that: http://xkcd.com/1104/ [xkcd.com]

      • Imagine the size of the Beer Can to barbecue it!!

    • by tont0r (868535)

      Time to remake Jurassic Park. And while he's at it, Speilberg can change all the guns to flashlights!

      That doesnt sound very scary. Sounds more like... a six foot turkey!

    • Light heeeeeeeerrrrrrrrr. LIGHT HEEEERRRRRRRR.
    • Time to remake the creation story as well.

  • This means we'll have to redraw 200 years worth of artwork...

    • Re:Dang... (Score:5, Funny)

      by JaredOfEuropa (526365) on Friday July 25, 2014 @12:38PM (#47532863) Journal
      Not to mention the modifications we have to make to the creationist parks.
    • Re:Dang... (Score:5, Funny)

      by fahrbot-bot (874524) on Friday July 25, 2014 @12:55PM (#47533049)

      This means we'll have to redraw 200 years worth of artwork...

      And redo other things.... The phrase "Kulindadromeus zabaikalicus of a feather flock together." doesn't really roll off the tongue.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I remember hearing once that if the first dinosaurs discovered had wishbones we would have never said they went extinct. We would have said they were a past generation of birds that died off.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 25, 2014 @12:36PM (#47532855)

    Find some more feathered fossils and conclude that ALL dinosaurs probably had feathers.

    I propose that a heck of a lot more digging and research is necessary before anyone starts putting that in print.

    • Rather broad leap.. (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      For those of us who have been following the literature on the subject, this doesn't really come as a surprise. Rather than that this fossil shows that all/most dinosaurs had feathers where we previously assumed this to be the case only for some groups, this fossil is a confirmation of the already commonly held view (in the field) that feathers were to all probability basal in dinosaurs.

    • Find some more feathered fossils and conclude that ALL dinosaurs probably had feathers.

      It makes a little more sense to conclude something like that when the fossils are very old and of a different lineage than other feathered dinosaurs. The Guardian article does a much better job at explaining the reasoning than the NatGeo article.

    • by KeithJM (1024071) on Friday July 25, 2014 @02:34PM (#47533915) Homepage
      It's a broad leap, but they didn't just find some random feathered fossils. They found fossils of various species that shared an ancestor very early in the dinosaur line. So it would be like discovering that Humans, Orangutans and Gorillas all had something in common (like a particular lobe of the brain) that we had previously thought only humans had. It would imply the there is a good chance Chimpanzees have it too, because it seems likely to be inherited from that early shared ancestor. They could be wrong, and each of those lines of dinosaurs could have evolved feathers separately. But it's not just a random conclusion.
  • Pre-historic animals in Siberia mutated to grow feathers and withstand the blistering cold. That's called evolution. It still doesn't mean all dinossaurs were feathered. I bet in Australia they wore bathing suits.
  • by aerivus (1658465) on Friday July 25, 2014 @12:46PM (#47532945)

    What exactly did all these different feathers do? "I don't know; nobody knows for sure," Godefroit says. "These animals couldn't fly, that's all we can tell you."

    Of course these dinosaurs couldn't fly; everyone knows that in the late Triassic, the Pterosaurs [wikipedia.org] received a broad-reaching patent titled "Feathery Apparatus for Flight". Regrettably, the patent term length at the time was over one hundred million years.

  • by roc97007 (608802) on Friday July 25, 2014 @12:55PM (#47533057) Journal

    The next Jurassic Park could be a lot more interesting.

    But probably won't be.

  • by Phics (934282) on Friday July 25, 2014 @01:04PM (#47533119)

    Sounds like the dinosaurs were humiliated backwards... feathered ...then tarred.

    • by istartedi (132515) on Friday July 25, 2014 @01:13PM (#47533205) Journal

      At least they weren't gzipped.

    • Eric Garner probably would not have survived being tarred and feathered either which is probably why the hole thing was outlawed. Unfortunately, Eric didn't understand simple wisdom. NEVER argue with a cop. That is what lawyers are for. Always strive to survive your trip to see a judge. Never talk to a cop. Cops don't specifically set out to kill you, that i just an added bonus. They simply want to excercise their authority over you, which they have. Usually you can recognize cops by their jackboot uniform
  • What's their definition of "most dinosaurs"? Maybe most as in, there was this one tiny feathered dinosaur that bred like rabbits and was everywhere? And do they mean "had feathers" as in had 3 tiny feathers on the top of a big lizardy dino head? Big dinos almost always had scales from what I've read. And perhaps size is part of is as is seen in recent animals and animals today... larger mammals have far far less fur except during the times of ice ages.

    I found a couple of links that show scales, no feathers,

  • I've never understood this idea. Sure at a macroscopic scale there is some resemblance between scales and feathers, but on looking close you get an entirely different structure.

    Scales being basically flat plates and feathers being long rods with interconnected hooks on them.

    If this story is correct and way more dinosaurs had feathers than previously thought, then why force it?

  • Not quite. Sauropods are dinosaurs too and none have been found with feathers that I'm aware of.

  • But my guess is the other Dinobots won't like it.

    "Me Grimlock no like being bird"

  • Next they'll be telling us Pluto isn't a planet. Enough with this revisionism!

    And by god if Brontosaurus was good enough for Fred Flintstone, it's good enough for me!
  • "in dinosaur history": really? There are historical documents written while dinosaurs were around? Ok, I admit I'm being a bit pedantic...

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