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Re: Scaly tyrannosaurs; fact or fiction?
<The terms you offer are useful, but I want something that refers to the
feathers, etc. themselves, not just the skin they grow from.>...
<Or perhaps "feathery structures" is what I want...>
I think, from what you're saying, that you're looking for a general word for
feathers of all types, without referencing the patterns with which they're
anchored to the skin. From the following, it appears that feather is itself
a general term.
You also appear to be looking for a term for 'near-feathers' or
primitive feathers that don't meet a definition of a bird feather. That's
getting into technical issues, including possibly whether you can have a
bird without feathers or feathers without a bird, and I think I had better
nod politely and withdraw on that point.
Quotation (source below):
Feathers are unique to birds. Those of adults are admirably engineered to be
lightweight yet strong. They are of three basic types, each associated with
certain functions. Contour feathers (including the flight and tail feathers)
define the body outline and serve as aerodynamic devices; filoplumes (hair
feathers) and plumules (down feathers) are used principally as insulation,
to conserve body heat. Colours and patterns in feathers serve as protective
coloration or for sexual display.
In most birds contour feathers are not uniformly distributed over the
surface of the body but are arranged in feather tracts (pterylae) separated
from one another by regions of almost naked skin (apteria). The only
exceptions are the ostrichlike birds, the penguins, and the South American
screamers, in which the even distribution of plumage has probably been
secondarily acquired. Feather tracts differ in arrangement in different
species and hence are useful in the classification of birds.