Many paleontologists believed that all dinosaurs might have been covered in feathers. Now there is evidence to support the theory. The Chinese soil conserved the fossils of Kulindadromeus zabaikalicus, a dinosaur that lived 140 million years ago. The fossils of the feathered dinosaur discovered in Middle Jurassic to Early Cretaceous deposits from the northeastern part of China had displayed both scales and feathers. Several hundred dinosaurs from this species were buried by sediments on the bottom of a lake, preserving them in excellent conditions. Kulindadromeus zabaikalicus was about 1.5 meters tall and it was a biped with a long tail and short forelimbs. The animal belongs to a group called ornithischians. Stegosaurus, ankylosaurus, and triceratops were a part of the same group.
Speaking of feathers, the fossils of the largest flying bird were recently discovered.
More than one type of feathers covered Kulindadromeus zabaikalicus. Bristles covered the animals’ upper bodies, while modern-like feathers were positioned on the lower body parts. The researchers believes the feathers indicate two important discoveries. One would be that the upper part feathers functioned as insulators, meaning that the dinosaurs were actually warm-blooded. Secondly, the lower part feathers do not appear to have served a strictly survivalist purpose. Godefroit says they believe the dinosaurs had a social life, and the decorative feathers were used to attract mates.
Feathered dinosaur discovered by paleontologists might change core disciplinary theories
Pascal Godefroit, the study’s lead author and director of earth and life sciences at the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences, thinks is impossible that the feathered dinosaurs flew. The reasons is that they were clearly bipedal and their arms were extremely short. But not all paleontologists agree with the new theory according to all dinosaurs might have had feathers. David Evans, curator of vertebrate paleontology at the Royal Ontario Museum, believes that these dinosaurs might have had just a different type of skin. Nevertheless, the discovery clearly brings a novel piece of evidence in the debate. Feathered theropods are already discovered, including some from the group containing Tyrannosaurus rex.
The discovery might change the scientific view on what functions the feathers performed. Feathers functionality passed through several stages, with flying being the last one. Before they were used for flying, feathers helped birds to glide. The early uses of feathers potentially involve camouflage, display or insulation. The feathered dinosaur discovered recently will stir further constructive debate on the matter.
The research results were published under the title “A Jurassic ornithischian dinosaur from Siberia with both feathers and scales” in Science journal on Thursday.