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Triassic protofeathers and fake-heads



As I have noted before, my hypothesis is that the protofeathers developed on the tails of Triassic dinosaurs, when they were still small. I'm not talking about big Cretaceous dinosaurs which had 100 million years of evolution in which to become smarter and more skilled hunters. Just as early Tertiary mammals were slower (physically and mentally) than modern mammals, the early dinosaurs were probably relatively clumsy and dim-witted.
Therefore, I think a protofeathered tail evasion strategy would have worked well enough much of the time to give such early dinosaurs the evolutionary edge. At some point I would guess that mimicking a sauropomorph "neck and head" on your tail might have worked pretty well. Better to have your tail chomped on than your neck or head. When ankylosaurs and stegosaurs evolved into bigger forms and the predators got smarter and manuraptorial, it wouldn't have worked any more, and therefore things like tail clubs (and more armor in general) would develop in an evolutionary arms race.
Might sound like a just-so story, but it makes sense to me. I predict that many early ornithischians (perhaps including some heterodontosaurids?) will be found to have had some interesting arrays of protofeathers on their tails for camouflage or confusing/startling early theropods (especially inexperienced juveniles).
----- Cheers, Ken


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