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Re: ABSRD BAND on Sinornithosaurus feathers

<...But the novel structure must have an immediate
use/benefit if it is to persist...>

Why?  If the mutation is not actively harmful, then it is neutral. Would
there be a reason to select against it?

<Maybe it wasn't a layer, just a sparse growth of peach fuzz. But--if you
did have a mutation that gave you a layer of peach fuzz, then it could have
served as insulation provided the animal was already warm-blooded enough to
need it...>

Keeping in mind the observation from another post that even peach fuzz takes
a substantial amount of change, you'd be looking at a long period in which
there was no advantage at all.
We have also read that feathers do not appear to be a simple adaptation of
scales, but something completely different.
So, we need something that would have an advantage and which would share
some characteristics with feathers.
One possibility is quills, as on porcupines.  These are modified guard
(long) hairs on the mammal, so the analogy is inexact, but if some dinosaurs
had protective, hardened areas on their skin, the material used to produce
those areas might well be unique.
I thought I read that some skin impressions did show hardened areas, though
this may be more optimism than precision.
Just a thought with a small chance of being useful.