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Re: Sinosauropteryx tail colors
The article Dr. Holtz linked to reports one of the paleontologists as saying
that he believes that feathers were used for color-utilizing sexual displays
before being exapted for insulatory purposes and later flight. Am I the only
one who thinks the "display to insulation" scenario sounds backwards? Feathers
are by nature useful for insulation, but in the absence of showy fans or crests
as exemplified by compsognathids like *Sinosauropteryx*, what display advantage
would they have over plain scales? "Naked" scaley reptiles can be perfectly
bright and colorful on their own; no novel structures are needed.
Further, if the original and primary purposes of plumage *was* display,
wouldn't we expect the most primitive feathered dinosaurs to have showier
structures like the tail fans of *Caudipteryx* or *Nomingia* and more derived
forms gaining the *Sinosauropteryx*-like fuzzy insulatory structures? Instead
the reverse seems true.