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Stegosaur feathers (was Re: T-Rex quo vadis? [long])



In a message dated 96-02-08 11:54:08 EST, martz@holly.ColoState.EDU (Jeffrey
Martz) writes:

>      Feathers are known for birds.  Scales are known for some 
>dinosaurs.  Feathers are known for NO dinosaurs.  Might some dinosaurs 
>have had feathers?  Maybee.  But our knowledge to date gives us no reason 
>to beleive that any dinosaur had feathers, and at least a little 
>indication that they did not.  In light of this, dinosaurs having 
>feathers is at least marginally more speculative that dinosaurs all being 
>scaled, and our current system of classification should reflect this.  
>Taxonomy should reflect our best knowledge to date, not the most 
>aesthetically appealing speculation. 

Recent work reported by Alan Brush indicates that feathers are composed of
more or less the same proteins as bird beaks and claws. This suggests that
feather keratins go back quite far in the fossil record (do crocs have the
same kinds of keratins in the horny coverings of their scutes?). If you think
of, say, stegosaur plates and ankyosaur scutes as giant pre-feathers with
bony cores, then some dinosaurs did have "feathers." But "true" feathers on
dinosaurs, of the kind characterizing modern birds, were probably lost in
most lineages.