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RE: Stegosaurus with protofeathers? Absolutely!
You'll be pleasantly surprised by the on-line advance publication of a most
important paper today.
The paper, to be published tomorrow in the journal, _Nature_, describes a
remarkably well-preserved basal thyreophoran from the early Cretaceous
(Barremian) lowest Yixian deposits of Liaoning, China. According to the
authors, the specimen's unique suite of features characterizes the animal as
the most "primitive" ankylosaurid discovered, an apparent nodosaurid most
closely related to _Liaoningosaurus_ (also from the Yixian Formation).
Unlike _Liaoningosaurus_, however, the new specimen appears to be a mature
individual, and possesses not only large osteoderms over 75% of the body,
including an arrangement of lateral spikes, but also branching filamentous
integumentary structures interspersed between the osteoderms, which closely
resemble the feathers of extant paleognathid birds. These integumentary
features range in length from 2.5 cm on the neck and head to 60 cm on the
rump. This is remarkable given the estimated body length of only 2.3
meters. The "fluffy" armored dinosaur is named _Ramalamadingdongosaurus
Hap-Pi, Ei-pi, and Fu, Z. (2009). "A fluffy ankylosaur from China". Nature
Volume 458, Number 7237, pp. 297-300.
Is it a coincidence that the report comes out on April Fool's Day? I think
Dino Guy Ralph
Docent at the California Academy of Sciences
Dinosaur and Fossil Education
Member of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology
From: owner-DINOSAUR@usc.edu [mailto:owner-DINOSAUR@usc.edu] On Behalf Of
Sent: Wednesday, April 01, 2009 2:41 AM
Subject: Re: Stegosaurus with protofeathers?
I have a couple questions for you Ornithischia buffs out there. I am halfway
through drawing a 'maximally odd' Stegosaurus stenops (for teh hurrurz). No
cheeks, a crocodilian-like underbelly, and....thickened dinobristle/spines
arising from the edges of the plates.
Given midline filaments in 2 Ornithischians so far, the assumption that this
is the basal condition for the group, and that Stegosaurus plating develops
from the midline, it seems reasonable to _me_ that whatever sort of
integument overlaid the osteoderms, it must be derived from homologous
filaments on its ancestors. So my question is: What is wrong with my
interpretation? Surely, a Stegosaurus with plate-mounted dinobristles is
absurd to the _highest_ degree!! What about the thagomizer spikes? Were they
angled slightly dorsally, or perfectly laterally situated?
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