Thought this article in the Age newpaper (Melbourne) may be of interest.
The idea of being chased by something that looks like a Cassowary with arms
and teeth doesn't bear thinking about.
Jurassic discovery is for the birds
By JOHN von RADOWITZ
Thursday 26 April 2001
The first fossil dinosaur to be found with an intact body
wrapped from head to tail in feathers, scientists said
The 130-million-year-old dromaeosaur provides the best
evidence yet that
some dinosaurs developed primitive feathers - not for
flight but to keep
Dromaeosaurs were small, fast-running predators closely
related to the
velociraptor which starred in the film Jurassic Park.
Like the velociraptor, they had a sickle-like claw on the
middle toe, sharp
teeth, and a bone structure similar to that of modern birds.
The fossil was unearthed last spring by farmers digging
China's Liaoning province.
The dromaeosaur's skeleton was entombed in two slabs of
rock and resembles that of a large duck with a long tail
and an oversized
head, indicating that it was a young specimen.
Its head and tail are covered with downy fibres, while
other parts of the
body sprout tufts or sprays of filaments resembling
primitive feathers. The
backs of the arms are adorned with branched structures
similar to the
barbs of a modern bird feather.
Mark Norell from the American Museum of Natural History
York, head of a United States team examining the find
researchers, said: "This fossil radically modifies our
vision of these extinct
animals. It shows us that advanced theropod (two-legged)
have looked more like weird birds than giant lizards."
The findings were reported yesterday in the scientific
Several new species of dinosaur with feather-like
structures have been
found in the Liaoning fossil beds since the first,
discovered in 1995.
In most cases the fossils have been jumbled or
incomplete, making it
unclear how the feather-like structures related to the
Most experts now believe that modern birds evolved from
cite the Liaoning fossils as evidence. But critics have
argued that the
feather-like structures are not the remains of feathers,
or that the
specimens are mixed-up fossils of early birds and dinosaurs.
The new find may help resolve the debate. It contains
details so fine that
scientists will be able to see how the primitive feathers
were attached to
the dinosaur's body.
Ji Qiang, from the Chinese Academy of Geological Sciences
another member of the investigating team, said: "This is
we've been waiting for. It makes it indisputable that a
similar to feathers was present in non-avian (flightless)
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