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The early evolution of feathers: fossil evidence from Cretaceous amber of France.




Vincent Perrichot, Loïc Marion, Didier Néraudeau, Romain Vullo, and Paul 
Tafforeau (FirstCite)  The early evolution of feathers: fossil evidence from 
Cretaceous amber of France.  Proc. R. Soc. B.   10.1098/rspb.2008.0003


Abstract: "The developmental stages of feathers are of major importance in the 
evolution of body covering and the origin of avian flight.  Until now, there 
were significant gaps in knowledge of early morphologies in theoretical stages 
of feathers as well as in palaeontological material.  Here we report fossil 
evidence of an intermediate and critical stage in the incremental evolution of 
feathers which has been predicted by developmental theories but hitherto 
undocumented by evidence from both the recent and the fossil records.  Seven 
feathers have been found in an Early Cretaceous (Late Albian, ca 100Myr) amber 
of western France, which display a flattened shaft composed by the still 
distinct and incompletely fused bases of the barbs forming two irregular vanes. 
 Considering their remarkably primitive features, and since recent discoveries 
have yielded feathers of modern type in some derived theropod dinosaurs, the 
Albian feathers from France might have been derived either from an
 early bird or from a non-avian dinosaur."


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