Birds of a feather? Now include "ostrich" dinosaurs

Thu Oct 25, 2012 5:00pm EDT

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(Reuters) - The ostrich-like dinosaurs that roamed the Earth millions of years ago were adorned with feathers, used to attract a mate or protect offspring rather than for flight, according to the findings of Canadian scientists released on Thursday.

Researchers from the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology, and the University of Calgary made the discovery in the 75-million-year-old rocks in the badlands of southern Alberta.

The ostrich-like dinosaurs, known as ornithomimids, were thought to be hairless, fleet-footed birds and were depicted as such in the Hollywood movie Jurassic Park.

But the researchers found evidence of feathers with a juvenile and two adult skeletons of ornithomimus, a species within the ornithomimid group.

"The discovery, the first to establish the existence of feathers in ornithomimids, suggests that all ostrich-like dinosaurs had feathers," according to a statement from the Alberta museum.

It said the specimens also revealed that the dinosaurs boasted a base of down-like feathers throughout their lifetime while older ones developed feathers on their arms, approximating wings.

But the dinosaurs would have been too large to fly, so the plumage might have been employed to attract a mate or in the protection of eggs during hatching.

The findings by the paleontologists Francois Therrien, curator at the Royal Tyrrell Museum, and Darla Zelenitsky, assistant professor at the University of Calgary, will be published on Friday in Science, a leading journal.

The fossils were discovered in sandstone and were the first feathered dinosaur specimens found in North America, according to the museum statement. Previously feathered dinosaur skeletons have been recovered almost exclusively from fine-grained rocks in China and Germany.

(Reporting By Russ Blinch; editing by Todd Eastham)

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Comments (2)
morbas wrote:
During the Maastrichtian Stage represented the decline of Dinosaur species, no fossile remains are found in the late Maastrichtian stage. The Yucutan meteorite event 65Ma-ago controversey claims that the Dinosaur was extinqused by that event, however no Dinosaur fossile remains exist in the late Maastrichtian Stage Millions of years earlier. The feather has Ultraviolate (UV) reflection properties, and the only Dinosaur to survive thourh the late Masstrichtian are our present bird species. Logically, larger unfeathered beasts would not have survived loss of ozone in the upper stratisphere, our UV shield.
Finally we have evidence supporting an cause for an earlier demise of the Dinosaur beasties. This could pull in Antarctic and ‘Arctic Dinosaur’ dinsaur evidence, and finally ending IMHO the Yucutan Meteorite claim of extinguishing the non-avian Dinosaur.

Oct 26, 2012 3:42am EDT  --  Report as abuse
morbas wrote:
The Geologic Maastrichtian Stage represented a final decline of Dinosaur species; no fossils are found in the late Maastrichtian stage strata. The Yucatan meteorite event 65Ma-ago controversial claim that the Dinosaur was extinguished by that event is not supported as no Dinosaur fossil remains are found in the late Maastrichtian Stage strata. The feather has ultra violate (UV) reflection properties, and only Dinosaur to survive through the late Masstrichtian are our present bird (avian) species. Logically, larger and non feathered beasts could not have survived loss of ozone.. This is our our UV shield as well. Finally we may have evidence supporting causality for an earlier demise of Dinosaur beasts. This could pull in Antarctic and ‘Arctic Dinosaur’ dinosaur evidence, and re-define the Yucatan Meteorite effects supported by geologic evidence.

Oct 26, 2012 8:53am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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