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Re: Sinosauropteryx tail colors



2010/1/29 Erik Boehm <erikboehm07@yahoo.com>:
>> > 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) fuzz.
>
>> I do not think the protofeathers to be irritant because this seems to
>> be just an apomorphy of certain spiders. As far as I know, no other
>> sauropsid has irritant epidermal structures.
>
> I don't know of any either, but many plants have similar surface structures, 
> so spiders aren't the only things with a fuzzy coating that irritates the 
> skin, so there is no reason to suggest dino's couldn't have had something 
> similar.
> It also doesn't mean they did.

You are right in that spiders are not alone, yet, it is still less
parsimonious to accept Sinosauropteryx had irritant "hair" because we
would have to hypothesize an extra evolutionary step "appearance of
irritant structure", to be later "loss of irritant nature in the
structure", as most birds lack irritant feathers (except for a derived
passeriform which accumulates venom on its feathers).