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Thread: dino news: mummified dinosaur tail found in amber. Has ACTUAL 3D FEATHERY FEATHERS

  1. #1
    Member
    Registered: Oct 2002
    Location: London / London / London

    dino news: mummified dinosaur tail found in amber. Has ACTUAL 3D FEATHERY FEATHERS

    Nat Geo popsci piece (http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2...ma-cretaceous/)

    Actual paper (http://www.cell.com/current-biology/...16)31193-9.pdf NB: IT IS XU FUCKING XING AGAIN. Is it illegal for a chinese theropod to be published on without including him?

    So on the face of it there is not too much mega-novel about this, they've found a section of distal tail which can be identified to at least the Coelurosauria (very large and diverse theropod group that includes most of the fancier stuff you'll have heard of - tyrannosaurs, dromaeosaurs ('raptors'), oviraptors, ornithomimosaurs, birds etc), and it has feathers. Any dinosaur palaentologist who's not Alan Feduccia (Birds-Are-Not-Dinosaurs band leader and Wes Anderson villain) will greet that news with 'well, yeah'. BUT, what feathers! Fully 3D, fluffy filamentous feathers, very similar to the 'ornamental' feathers of flightless palaeognaths like ostriches. Just gawping at the images from this stuff you can feel the gulf of time that separates you from it. The 2D stuff just seems more abstract, it's easier to look at it and say 'ok, this used to be a bird 100 million years ago, but it looks like a kitchen tile now', whereas this stuff, it's just breathtaking. My jaw literally dropped. It still looks soft!

    Last edited by Vivian; 9th Dec 2016 at 07:57. Reason: SOZ LINK WORKS NOW

  2. #2
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2004
    Quote Originally Posted by Vivian View Post
    NB: IT IS XU FUCKING XING AGAIN. Is it illegal for a chinese theropod to be published on without including him?
    It might be.

    ...Cool feathers.

  3. #3
    verbose douchebag
    Registered: Apr 2002
    Location: Lyon, France
    Fucking awesome. Whoever invented amber should get a Nobel or five. Is there any other way at all for things to be preserved this well?

    [EDIT] Also, what kind of shit needs to be going down for stuff to get enveloped in tree sap?

  4. #4
    Member
    Registered: Oct 2002
    Location: London / London / London
    I guess it needs to be climbing a tree? Good question. It's fairly easy to imagine a small insect getting mired in the stuff, but this must have been at least squirrel sized.

  5. #5
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2004
    My guess is that it was already dead.

  6. #6
    Member
    Registered: May 2005
    Location: Full on Kevel's mom
    Wow, neato!

  7. #7
    Member
    Registered: Dec 2005
    Location: swimming in pickled herring
    Nice share, Vivian! Love these kinds of things, amazing how the Dinosaurs changed since I was a kid. When I was a wee lad, they all had to live in swamps so their massive bodies could be supported by water! (link to paper is broken?)

  8. #8
    Moderator and Priest
    Registered: Mar 2002
    Location: Dinosaur Ladies of the Night
    What Montag said. From the time between now, and when I was a kid, dinosaurs have gone from giant, lumbering, coldblooded lizards, to agile, bloodthirsty bird demons.

    SCIENCE IS FAN-FUCKING-TASTIC!

  9. #9
    And.....this is just bizarre.

    I was told YEARS ago by someone that I thought was a batshit insane conspiracy theorist(the kind that believes humans were genetically engineered slaves) that we'd all been lied to about the dinosaur and that it was actually a feathered creature much smaller than we'd been lead to believe.

    He's going to be even more insufferable now that he's right.
    Last edited by Tony_Tarantula; 9th Dec 2016 at 14:44.

  10. #10
    Chakat sex pillow
    Registered: Sep 2006
    Location: Sulphur, whatever
    Every time I think there's a bottom that cognitive dissonance eventually sinks to, I keep being reminded that its depths are infinite.

  11. #11
    Moderator
    Registered: Jan 2003
    Location: NeoTokyo
    Cool beans.

  12. #12
    Member
    Registered: Oct 2002
    Location: London / London / London
    Quote Originally Posted by montag View Post
    Nice share, Vivian! Love these kinds of things, amazing how the Dinosaurs changed since I was a kid. When I was a wee lad, they all had to live in swamps so their massive bodies could be supported by water! (link to paper is broken?)
    Yeah sorry man, typo. It's fixed now. Isn't living in the era of open-access scientific publishing rad?

  13. #13
    Member
    Registered: Oct 2002
    Location: London / London / London
    Quote Originally Posted by faetal View Post
    FIs there any other way at all for things to be preserved this well?
    Phosphatic fossilization can also produce some pretty eye-popping results, but the thing generally still gets pancaked during the preservation (unless it's a microfossil, seemingly - I guess because a lot of tiny things are basically spherical?). Check out the Doushantuo embryo stuff, it's amazing.

  14. #14
    verbose douchebag
    Registered: Apr 2002
    Location: Lyon, France
    This is one of those once in a lifetime finds. It's maddening to think about all of what we'll never be able to see from prehistory.

  15. #15
    Member
    Registered: Feb 2002
    Location: In the flesh.
    Little raptor is scrabbling at the base of a tree when a large Spinosaur bites him into damaging the tree in the process. Sap runs from the gouge covering the missed bit of tail.

    The feathers are branched like a tree. I didn't expect that. What is the current theory behind feather development? I seriously doubt it was just about sexual selection. I'm a big believer in form following function. There must have been some heat distribution factor or something. And yeah yeah sex is a function but that is still one hell of a development for just "damn girl you pretty in that feather boa".

  16. #16
    Moderator
    Registered: Jan 2003
    Location: NeoTokyo
    If it's a super expensive boa, the sex selection theory is it's a natural signal of your salary (health and strength) that you can't fake.

  17. #17
    Member
    Registered: Oct 2002
    Location: London / London / London
    The only real explanation for the initial development of feathers is insulation. Coelurosaurs at least were undoubtedly endothermic. All of the display functions were a further development.

  18. #18
    Member
    Registered: May 2004
    Location: Canuckistan GWN
    Have they accessed the actual remains yet? Any chance of recovering organic / genetic material?

  19. #19
    Member
    Registered: Oct 2002
    Location: London / London / London
    Quote Originally Posted by Nicker View Post
    Have they accessed the actual remains yet? Any chance of recovering organic / genetic material?
    I think all they've done so far is a micro-CT, which is what the imagery in the paper is based on. I would be surprised if there isn't a lot of organic material left to be honest, even in trad fossils there is often original material still in there, but it's usually collagen or something similarly robust. Genetic material is unlikely, though - DNA just isn't stable over the timescales involved, so even if chemically it's the same, the genetic information would be corrupted beyond use (I imagine).

  20. #20
    Member
    Registered: May 2004
    Location: Canuckistan GWN
    Cool. I understand they were able to sequence the collagen recovered from the TRex fossil and compare it to modern birds. I didn't figure there would be DNA but perhaps some other material which might support common ancestry.

    Anyway, what a find. Feathers.

  21. #21
    Member
    Registered: Feb 2002
    Location: In the flesh.
    Nice concealment of the desire for a cloned dinosaur, Nicker. Come on, we all want Jurassic park. If for no other reason than to see what color the feathers truly are.

    Quote Originally Posted by Vivian View Post
    The only real explanation for the initial development of feathers is insulation. Coelurosaurs at least were undoubtedly endothermic. All of the display functions were a further development.
    I never think of insulation because I always figure it was a hot house swamp in those days. There were seasons in the more temperate zones of course. Then too it has been speculated that part of the reason man did well is our ability to sweat as a heat dispersal. Overheating is a big problem on the long hunt. Feathers could act in the same capacity no? Camouflage of them could be another factor for coloring too.

  22. #22
    Member
    Registered: Oct 2002
    Location: London / London / London
    Nah man, how would covering yourself in a fluffy, air-trapping layer act as cooling? You ever worn a down-stuffed coat? Seriously, these proto-feather structures are insulation. Once you get the tertiary barbule things that let them form smooth sheets (like on the contour feathers of flying birds) the juries still out as to whether it was initially a display thing or whether it was waterproofing (I'd go with the latter, contour feather structure fits the requirements of breathable waterproofing almost perfectly), but the downy layer like you see in this fossil? Insulation, unambiguously. Don't forget you still have cold evenings and mornings etc even if Jurassic temperature was warmer than the average now. And most early coelurosaurs were small, so they'd lose heat to the environment fast, which is really bad if you're an endotherm.

  23. #23
    verbose douchebag
    Registered: Apr 2002
    Location: Lyon, France
    Plus I'm imagining if the feathers were strategically located, they could be employed as insulation by changing posture, rather than all of the time?

  24. #24
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2004
    Quote Originally Posted by Vivian View Post
    Nah man, how would covering yourself in a fluffy, air-trapping layer act as cooling?
    By pumping a warm liquid through it to act as a radiator. Feathers are too complicated to grow as "dead" keratin from a single follicle like hairs do; growing feathers (known as "pin feathers" or "blood feathers") actually require a blood supply. Now, given that insulating feathers require a radiating stage before they can become insulating, whereas radiating feathers do not require an insulating stage at all, it is not unreasonable to guess that the very earliest "feather" ancestors might very well have originally functioned to radiate heat rather than to insulate.

  25. #25
    Member
    Registered: Oct 2002
    Location: London / London / London
    Where was all this extra heat supposed to be coming from?

    (Fair point on the blood supply btw, but I still don't buy it. You'd be covered in gills, basically. Seems a bit OTT)

    (And how would you get enough airflow for heat loss? The fluff TRAPS air.)

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