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Re: Non-theropod dinosaurs and feathery/fluffy integument

Just to ease doubt with an additional personal observation... I got to see the quilled psittacosaur specimen 2 months ago when I was in Germany, and the "quills" do indeed exhibit a placement relative tot he neural spines that appears too regular to be plants or anything else haphazardly "washed in". That said, I would also like to see a more indepth analysis of the geochemistry and morphology of the structures.

To answer Brandon's question; it seems to me that the liklihood of some sort of "dinofuzz" being primitive to non-coelurosaurs depends on how closely related pterosaurs are to dinosaurs. If there is a close relationship, you can make a reasonable inference that dino/ptero fuzz arose prior to the origin of dinosauria (although it still may have evolved separately even if a close relationship is found). If pterosaurs are only distantly related to dinosaurs, then you have no phylogenetic support beyone the coelurosaur fossils that have insulatory pellage, and that makes a much weaker argument for extending insulation to even the base of theropoda, let alone to other dinosaur clades. And the scales preserved in Psittacosaurus (the "quill-specimen" definitely has scales preserved on the rest of the body) argues against some sort of insulatory covering in this group.

Considering the association of scales in Juravenator is similar to that inferred for a small patch in Scansoriopteryx (which clearly had at least dinofuzz, if not true feathers), it doesn't seem like much of a challenge to other portions of the body having insulatory structures, but that only takes you to the base of compsognathids (if it's even a natural group). Beyond that it's speculation; that doesn't mean it's wrong (hopefully additional fossils will show us one way or another) of course, but it is without much evidentiary support at this point.

Scott Hartman Science Director Wyoming Dinosaur Center 110 Carter Ranch Rd. Thermopolis, WY 82443 (800) 455-3466 ext. 230 Cell: (307) 921-8333


-----Original Message----- From: Jura <pristichampsus@yahoo.com> To: dinosaur@usc.edu Sent: Fri, 15 Jun 2007 2:39 am Subject: Re: Non-theropod dinosaurs and feathery/fluffy integument

--- Brandon Pilcher <trex_kid@hotmail.com> wrote:

Why is it conventional for paleoartists to cover
their smaller theropods (or
infants of larger theropod genera) with feathers or
proto-feathers, but not
dinosaurs from other clades? I have almost never
seen, say, a "coated"
ornithopod, psittacosaurid, or stegosaurid


I'm not sure just how conventional sticking feathers
on dinosaurs has become. It's popular among many dino
artists on the list, but there are still a fair amount
of dino books out there with scaly "raptors" adorning
their pages (admittedly, these are not the best books
on dinosaurs).

As for why you only see them in theropods, the answer
is simple. Theropods (maniraptors/coelurosaurs in
particular) are the only clade to show their
development. Phylogenetically, it seems most
parsimonious to assume that feathers evolved somewhere
in Coelurosauria.

This means that all dinosaurs outside this clade
(which are, in fact, most dinosaurs) would still be
scaly. This has been supported by the numerous skin
impressions from Carnotaurines, Sauropods, Ceratopians
and Hadrosaurs; all of which show scales.

The only possible exception is a single
_Psittacosaurus_ specimen announced in 2002. The
specimen appears to contain some type of filamentous
structure on the proximal part of the tail. It's
relation to feathers is considered nonexistent (it
shows absolutely zero feather/protofeather
morphology).  They were probably modified scales (as
suggested by their proximity to true scales - a
problem for feathers ), or something completely
unrelated to the specimen. The paper states that one
can discount these being plant remains, but gives no
actual reason why (just states a personal

Personally I'm leery on this specimen. The only data
on this beast comes from a short decription in
Naturwissenschaften. Until I see a more thorough
analysis of the "filaments," I'm going to retain my


As much as I miss the
featherless, scaly dinosaurs of my childhood's 90s
dinosaur books (in my
opinion they look much sleeker, shinier, and more
lithe than the dinobirds
of contemporary reconstructions), I believe all of
the smaller dinosaurs (as
well as the young of the larger kinds) probably had
integumentary covering,
for purposes of insulation.


All dinosaurs had integumentary covering. Scales ARE a
type of integument. As for filamentous integument,
that is probably restricted to coelurosaurs only
(probably closer to Maniraptora too).


All smaller endotherms need insulation.


This statement requires the assumption that all
dinosaurs were endotherms. Despite the sway of popular
opinion, the evidence is strongly ambiguous on this


BTW, is it possible that some dinosaurs may have had
"nappy" or kinky
integument (thinking Afro-type), as opposed to the
straight fluff/feathers
usually found on fossils bearing impressions?


I don't see why not. I'd have to wonder what
environmental forces were pushing for nappy hair


"I am impressed by the fact that we know less about many modern [reptile] types
than we do of many fossil groups." - Alfred S. Romer

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