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Re: _Sinosauropteryx_ fibers

Gigi Babcock or Ralph Miller III wrote:

> Such hollow fibers bring to mind the fibers preserved on the
> _Sinosauropteryx_ fossils, which were interpreted by Philip Currie to have
> been hollow structures (based on photomicroscopy of cross-sectioned
> fibers), as he attempted to demonstrate on October 10, 1997 at the annual
> SVP meeting in Chicago.  He projected a slide of a fossil fiber
> cross-section, which looked something like a donut.  Perhaps the simplest
> feathers began as something roughly analogous to polar bear fur, an
> integument composed of hollow fibers which held air inside for the purpose
> of insulation.  Such a stage would have been advantageous to small
> endothermic theropods, and would appear to be a plausible first step toward
> the much more complex feathers of flying birds.  It may be significant that
> the fibers are found on <this> animal, one of the smallest (non-avian)
> dinosaurs known.  I am further intrigued by comparisons with the fibers
> found on the diminutive _Mononykus_, but, having missed Mary Schweitzer's
> SVP presentation, I will leave it to others to comment.

I've been way off-list for a week or so since a project we've been on
has been finalling so I'm sorry of this is a little slow in getting out,
but as I understand it, FEATHERS are hollow as the bird growths
replacement feathers up through and WITHIN the shaft of the older
feather.  Thus a stubby feather impression with little barbing but lots
of short, thick HOLLOW feather shafts could simply be a sign that the
feathered creature was in molt at the time.
So what do you wanna bet that feathered dinosaurs can be caught in
different states of feathering at different times of the year?

           Betty Cunningham  
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