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RE: Sinosauropteryx feathers?
> I've also read that bristle feathers are degenerate contour feathers. Is
> there evidence that bristles came first?
Bristle feathers are not the same as the early stage
feathers (or protofeathers, depending on your leaning)
present on Sinosauropteryx. Bristles, as they exist in
extant birds, are a degenerate contour feather (at least
they are according to Proctor and Lynch sitting on my
shelf). They are generally sensory feathers or insect nets
(esp. in Caprimulgiformes), not body coverings.
> Finally, these Stage II feathers that Jaime's talking about: are they
> illustrated anywhere? They sound like a reasonable option if I'm denied my
> beloved contours.
Check out Prum. 1999. Evolutionary origin of feathers. J.
Exp. Zoology 285:291-306. I believe there is a diagram of
the various Stages in that paper.