Feathered Dinosaurs

Subject: Feathered Dinosaurs
From: stuart dashper <>
Date: Fri, 27 Apr 2001 12:38:01 +1000
Dear All,

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.

Stuart Dashper

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
covering was
                  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
in north-eastern
                  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
in New
                  York, head of a United States team examining the find
with Chinese
                  researchers, said: "This fossil radically modifies our
vision of these extinct
                  animals. It shows us that advanced theropod (two-legged)
dinosaurs may
                  have looked more like weird birds than giant lizards." 

                  The findings were reported yesterday in the scientific
journal Nature. 

                  Several new species of dinosaur with feather-like
structures have been
                  found in the Liaoning fossil beds since the first,
sinosauropteryx, was
                  discovered in 1995. 

                  In most cases the fossils have been jumbled or
incomplete, making it
                  unclear how the feather-like structures related to the
animal's body. 

                  Most experts now believe that modern birds evolved from
dinosaurs, and
                  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
in Beijing,
                  another member of the investigating team, said: "This is
the specimen
                  we've been waiting for. It makes it indisputable that a
body covering
                  similar to feathers was present in non-avian (flightless)

                  - PA

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