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Modern feathers on a non-avian dinosaur - today's Nature II




I can mention the first paragraph, to whet the appetite...


Palaeontology: 'Modern' feathers on a non-avian dinosaur

MARK NORELL, QIANG JI, KEQIN GAO, CHONGXI YUAN, YIBIN ZHAO & LIXIA WANG 
(2002).  Palaeontology: 'Modern' feathers on a non-avian dinosaur.  Nature
416: 36-37. 

"Discoveries of integumentary coverings on non-avian theropod dinosaurs are
becoming commonplace.  But the only definitive evidence so far that any of
these animals had feathers as we know them today has come from the
oviraptorosaur _Caudipteryx_ and the enigmatic coleurosaur
_Protarchaeopteryx_, both of which are considered by some to be secondarily
flightless birds.  Here we describe the occurrence of pinnate feathers,
which clearly feature a rachis and barbs, on a small, non-avian dromaeosaur
from northern China.  This finding indicates that feathers of modern aspect
evolved in dinosaurs before the emergence of birds and flight."

"Commonplace"?!  We could only dream about this ten years ago.

One thing strikes me as a little strange; the title refers to a "non-avian"
theropod; shouldn't that be "non-avialan"?  Or is the title employing
"non-avian" as a vernacular adjective removed from an explicitly
phylogenetic context.  This whole avian vs avialan thing still has me
bewildered.  :-(


Tim


------------------------------------------------------------ 

Timothy J. Williams 

USDA-ARS Researcher 
Agronomy Hall 
Iowa State University 
Ames IA 50014 

Phone: 515 294 9233 
Fax:   515 294 3163