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Re: feather origins (was Help Please)



My iguana (and a host of other reptiles I have owned) seem to slough their skin every 2-3 months. And they don't loose all of it at once, it comes off in patches (which seem to irritate them, they scratch at it or eat it when they can). BTW, the entire scale doesn't come off, just the outer shell of it. Birds like the african grey parrot we have in my house loose their entire coat of feathers over the course of about six months. They also come off in small patches. As for crocodilians, I'm not sure. The caiman (kinda like a mini-croc) I took care of had some sections of its scutes peeling around the edges....so maybe the outer surface of their scutes come off in smaller flakes. I'm pretty sure the scales on the feet of crocodilians is shed. I know that the scutes on the legs of birds are shed, so I think it's a fair assumption to say crocs shed theirs too. Something else you might find interesting is that birds grow "pin feathers" which are purplish-colored spikes that when the correct length are popped open by the birds beak and the internal feather is released. This is the reason parrots love to have their heads scratched- your loosing the cover of the pin feathers they can't reach. As for dinos? I have NO idea. If you ever have the misfortune of meeting a Megaraptor (Hey! Jurassic Park is still a possibility!), I wouldn't try to scratch its head to get on its good side. Speaking of pin feathers....someone should take a look at Sinosauropteryx and Sinornithosaurus to see if they can find a few, that would be a good indication of a more complex feather morphology than the
so-called "hairs", and they should preserve better. For more info on the scute-to-feather transition, go to:
http://www.dinosauria.com/jdp/archie/scutes.htm
Interesting stuff.





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