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Re: Sinosauropteryx tail colors

This is purely speculative, but if it was originally evolved for display, then 
perhaps the display was that of a warning. Perhaps the animals used these 
protofeathers as a way to appear larger to rivals, or to potential predators. 

Of course this would require the subsequent presence of (proto)feather erector 
muscles. Still, not entirely out of the question. 

Alternatively, the protofeathers might have had a use analogous to the fur of 
tarantulas, or the super wispy skin of some gecko species; in that they would 
tear off easily, leaving predators with a mouth full of (possibly irritating) 


--- On Wed, 1/27/10, Saint Abyssal <saint_abyssal@yahoo.com> wrote:

> From: Saint Abyssal <saint_abyssal@yahoo.com>
> Subject: Re: Sinosauropteryx tail colors
> To: "Dinosaur Mailing List" <dinosaur@usc.edu>
> Date: Wednesday, January 27, 2010, 10:39 PM
> 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