Sex appeal helped dinosaurs take flight

Attracting mates with showy displays may have helped dinosaurs develop feathers that let them take flight, according to new research by University of Alberta paleontologists.

Feathers came first, then birds

New research, led by the University of Bristol, suggests that feathers arose 100 million years before birds—changing how we look at dinosaurs, birds, and pterosaurs, the flying reptiles.

Feather mites may help clean birds' plumage, study shows

Feather mites help to remove bacteria and fungi from the feathers of birds, according to a new study by University of Alberta biologists. In fact, the relationship between these mites and their hosts could be considered mutualism, ...

Ancient birds out of the egg running

The ~125 million-year-old Early Cretaceous fossil beds of Los Hoyas, Spain, have long been known for producing thousands of petrified fish and reptiles (Fig. 1). However, researchers have uncovered an extremely rare, nearly ...

Biologists experimentally trigger adaptive radiation

When naturalist Charles Darwin stepped onto the Galapagos Islands in 1835, he encountered a bird that sparked a revolutionary theory on how new species originate. From island to island, finches had wildly varied beak designs ...

How bird feather patterns form

Feathers evolved in dinosaurs and are a key characteristic of birds today. They are arranged in a precise hexagonal pattern in a bird's skin, but it has been unclear how this happens. According to a new study published February ...

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Feather

Feathers are one of the epidermal growths that form the distinctive outer covering, or plumage, on birds and some theropod dinosaurs. They are considered the most complex integumentary structures found in vertebrates, and indeed a premier example of a complex evolutionary novelty. They are among the characteristics that distinguish the extant Aves from other living groups. Feathers have also been noticed in those Theropoda which have been termed feathered dinosaurs. Although feathers cover most parts of the body of birds, they arise only from certain well-defined tracts on the skin. They aid in flight, thermal insulation, waterproofing and coloration that helps in communication and protection.

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