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
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?
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.
My guess is that it was already dead.
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?)
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!
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.
Every time I think there's a bottom that cognitive dissonance eventually sinks to, I keep being reminded that its depths are infinite.
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.
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.
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".
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.
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.
Have they accessed the actual remains yet? Any chance of recovering organic / genetic material?
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.)