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Re: AW: Heterodontosaurid with protofeathers
--- On Wed, 3/18/09, evelyn sobielski <email@example.com> wrote:
> The really interesting question here - and it is one that
> is likely to be swamped by a deluge of faux-feather
> headlines - is: why? What is the use of such integumentary
> structures? It is hard to see them as evolutionary neutral,
> so they are likely to have conferred some benefit. What
> precisely did it evolve for?
Camouflage, among other things. In my view, camouflage is the best-guess for
the 'original benefit'. The thing about camo is, it's benefits can accrue at
any moment in the lifespan, and irregardless of climate, age, sex, or dietary
preference. Nor is there any associated behavioral requirement.
Also, any odd structure that serves to change the silhouette or conceals the
texture of edible (or dangerous) skin-covered muscle has immediate function,
unlike the frequently cited insulation, which requires both extensive coverage
and thermal effect.