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RE: Microraptor Had Iridescent Plumage
From: Ben Creisler
Press release for the National Science Foundation with nice
high-resolution downloadable artwork:
A press release from the AMNH with links to media and link to chat tomorrow:
> In the new March 9 issue of Science:
> Quanguo Li, Ke-Qin Gao, Qingjin Meng, Julia A. Clarke, Matthew D.
> Shawkey, Liliana D'Alba, Rui Pei, Mick Ellison, Mark A.
> Norell, and Jakob Vinther (2012) Reconstruction of
> Microraptor and the Evolution of Iridescent Plumage.
> Science 335(6073): 1215-1219
> DOI: 10.1126/science.1213780
> NOTE: The pdf for the data supplement is free.
> Iridescent feather colors involved in displays of many extant
> birds are produced by nanoscale arrays of melanin-containing
> organelles (melanosomes). Data relevant to the evolution of
> these colors and the properties of melanosomes involved in
> their generation have been limited. A data set sampling
> variables of extant avian melanosomes reveals that those
> forming most iridescent arrays are distinctly narrow.
> Quantitative comparison of these data with melanosome
> imprints densely sampled from a previously unknown specimen
> of the Early Cretaceous feathered Microraptor predicts that
> its plumage was predominantly iridescent. The capacity for
> simple iridescent arrays is thus minimally inferred in
> paravian dinosaurs. This finding and estimation of
> Microraptor feathering consistent with an ornamental function
> for the tail suggest a centrality for signaling in early
> evolution of plumage and feather color.