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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.

~ Abyssal