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Re: DOWNY STEGOSAURS (WAS: Re: Feathers on Bloody Everything)

Philidor11@aol.com wrote:
> So, I'm wondering if you can logically consider feathers present in related
> animals if there is no proven continuity?

Jeez, I'm still exhausted from SVP and you want some kind of cogent
response to this?  *sigh*  All right, I'll give it a shot...

The idea behind feathered small theropods started when it was postulated
that because they were so bird-like, they were possibly endothermic (or
some variation thereof). If endothermic, then they would *have* to be
feathered, since no small "warm-blooded" animal -- no matter how warm
its environment -- can be without some type of insulatory pelage. At the
time, there was no proof whatsoever of such insulation, and proponents
of the idea were often scoffed at, sometimes publicly. (Not that many
years ago, a rather prominent paleontologist, displaying a slide of Greg
Paul's feathered _Coelophysis_ as a prelude to his talk at SVP, called
the image "fantasy".) What's odd, though, is that if any theropods
should possess such pelage, it would seem logical that it was those most
closely related to birds (i.e., dromaeosaurs), but surprise, the first
confirmed non-scaly small theropod was _Sinosauropteryx_, a
compsognathid. So at this point, it would seem likely that *most* (if
not all) small theropods were covered in feathers. There is no direct
evidence to back up this claim, but it is logical. Then, of course,
there's _Caudipteryx_, that feathered "dilophosaur", and now a feathered
therizinosaur t'boot. Go figure. 

Brian (franczak@ntplx.net)