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Dino feathers



Dear All,
I have now have a colour photograph of this specimen and there is soft
tissue traces in the orbit and in the gastral area.  There are some
'structures' which occur on the mid line of the vertebral column - starting
at the atlas and finishing at about half way along the tail. They are small
and about 1 cm long.  Unfortunately I cannot see any detail of these
structures - ie I cannot confirm whether they are feathers or scales. 
There are none of these structures anywhere else on the body.
The specimen does indeed appear to be a compsognathid and it seems to have
an exceptionally long tail (about 3/5 of total body length).  The specimen
is preserved in exactly the same attitude as the Solnhofen Compsognathus. 
The forelimbs appear to be slightly disarticulated (again not clear from
the photograph).  In the Japanese newspapers there is also a life
reconstruction (in black and white) by M.W. Skrepnick dated 1996.
My gut feeling (from looking at this photo) is that the specimen is not
feathered and upon closer investigation they will turn out to be nothing
more than unusual scales - after all this type of scale structure is common
in at least 3 living lizards - so why shouldn't a useful functional object
such as this be apparent in dinos?

I'll keep you all posted as to any other info as it turns up

[To all those who sent me "I told you so messages" I will be sending "Ha, I
was right all along" back to you]

Paul

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Dr. Paul G. Davis
Division of Vertebrate Palaeontology, National Science Museum, 3-23-1
Hyakunin-cho, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo 169, Japan.
 
e-mail davis@kahaku.go.jp
Tel + 81 3 3364 2311
Fax. + 81 3 3364 7104
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