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Published on Jul 24, 2014
The lower leg of Kulindadromeus, the feathered ornithischian dinosaur, was extensively covered by thin scales but was devoid of feather-like structures, resembling the condition observed in most actual birds. Geneticians have demonstrated that the pedal scales in birds are some kinds of aborted feathers. The formation of avian scales requires the inhibition of feather development, an inhibition mechanism that is partially lost in the case of breeds with feathered feet. Interestingly, palaeontologists have also shown that the most primitive birds had feathered feet. It is therefore possible that the extensively scaled feet in Kulindadromeus might be explained by similar local inhibition mechanisms in the development of feather-like structures. Maybe all the dinosaurs were not entirely covered by feathered because they had already developed genetic mechanisms inhibiting the development of feathered!