Related topics: birds · dinosaurs

How boundaries become bridges in evolution

There's a paradox within the theory of evolution: The life forms that exist today are here because they were able to change when past environments disappeared. Yet, organisms evolve to fit into specific environmental niches.

Image: Hubble spots feathered spiral

The spiral pattern shown by the galaxy in this image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope is striking because of its delicate, feathery nature. These "flocculent" spiral arms indicate that the recent history of star formation ...

Birds take flight with help from Sonic hedgehog

Feathers are amazing evolutionary innovations that allowed birds to conquer the sky. A study led by Matthew Towers (University of Sheffield, UK) and Marian Ros (University of Cantabria, Spain) and published in the journal ...

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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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