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RE: Archaeopteryx had black feathers



How do they know the isolated feather belongs to Archaeopteryx?

~Tiffany Miller


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       {"Science is not belief, but the will to find out"}
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-----Original Message-----
From: owner-DINOSAUR@usc.edu [mailto:owner-DINOSAUR@usc.edu] On Behalf Of Ben 
Creisler
Sent: Tuesday, January 24, 2012 10:58 AM
To: dinosaur@usc.edu
Subject: Archaeopteryx had black feathers

From: Ben Creisler
bcreisler@gmail.com


A new online article in Nature Communications:


Ryan M. Carney, Jakob Vinther, Matthew D. Shawkey, Liliana D'Alba &
Jörg Ackermann (2012)
New evidence on the colour and nature of the isolated Archaeopteryx feather.
Nature Communications 3 (637)
doi:10.1038/ncomms1642
http://www.nature.com/ncomms/journal/v3/n1/full/ncomms1642.html



Archaeopteryx has been regarded as an icon of evolution ever since its
discovery from the Late Jurassic limestone deposits of Solnhofen,
Germany in 1861. Here we report the first evidence of colour from
Archaeopteryx based on fossilized colour-imparting melanosomes
discovered in this isolated feather specimen. Using a phylogenetically
diverse database of extant bird feathers, statistical analysis of
melanosome morphology predicts that the original colour of this
Archaeopteryx feather was black, with 95% probability. Furthermore,
reexamination of the feather's morphology leads us to interpret it as
an upper major primary covert, contrary to previous interpretations.
Additional findings reveal that the specimen is preserved as an
organosulphur residue, and that barbule microstructure identical to
that of modern bird feathers had evolved as early as the Jurassic. As
in extant birds, the extensive melanization would have provided
structural advantages to the Archaeopteryx wing feather during this
early evolutionary stage of dinosaur flight.



News stories:

http://www.physorg.com/news/2012-01-winged-dinosaur-archaeopteryx-flight.html


http://news.brown.edu/pressreleases/2012/01/archaeopteryx