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Elements S4 • E109

Everything We Know About Dinosaur Evolution Just Changed, Here’s Why

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Published on Nov 1, 2019

While it's been known that dinosaurs had feathers, the question of when feathers evolved is longstanding in the paleontological community.
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In 2019, scientists made a discovery that linked together many fossil and genetic discoveries to address a longstanding paleontological question: When did feathers actually evolve?

While the belief has been that feathers evolved around the same time as birds (to give them an advantage in a dinosaur-driven world) and that dinosaurs developed feathers around the same time that birds were branching off, these recent discoveries could upend not only what we believed to be true about the evolution of feathers but the dinosaur evolutionary timeline as well.

In the early 2010s, a fossil discovered in Russia showed remarkably well-preserved skin covered in both scales and feather-like structures. And recently, fossils from a pterosaur (the flying reptilian cousins of dinosaurs) have been found to display feathery structures, too.

These organisms existed long before birds on the evolutionary tree potentially pushing back the origin of feathers to 175 million years ago, tens of millions of years before the Archaeopteryx, which is widely regarded as the first ‘bird.’

Learn more about how birds evolved, and what role feathers played in their divergence from dinosaurs on this episode of Elements.

#Dinosaurs #Feathers #Birds #Science #Seeker #Elements

We’re Closer to Unravelling the Mysterious Evolution of the T. Rex
https://youtu.be/b9-k2uOb3QM

Read More:
A Jurassic ornithischian dinosaur from Siberia with both feathers and scales
https://science.sciencemag.org/conten...
"However, a new find named Kulindadromeus from eastern Russia published today in Science, suggests that in fact feathers, or at least very feather-like structures may have been present in huge numbers of other species of dinosaur, including those which are from totally different branches of the dinosaurian family tree to the birds.”

Feathers came first, then birds
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases...
"Palaeontologists had already noted that the new reptiles walked upright instead of sprawling, that their bone structure suggested fast growth and maybe even warm-bloodedness, and the mammal ancestors probably had hair by then.”

The Early Origin of Feathers
https://www.cell.com/trends/ecology-e...
“Hair and feathers likely evolved in the Early Triassic ancestors of mammals and birds, at a time when synapsids and archosaurs show independent evidence of higher metabolic rates (erect gait and endothermy), as part of a major resetting of terrestrial ecosystems following the devastating end-Permian mass extinction.”

To learn more, check out the American Museum of Natural History's exhibit on called T. Rex: The Ultimate Predator:
https://www.amnh.org/exhibitions/t-re...

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