Is there fossil evidence of dinosaur feathers
New bird-like dinosaur had modern feathers
The discovery of these asymmetrical feathers not only reveals a new piece of the history of flight. It also sheds light on the relationship between avian dinosaurs and the first birds.
The Troodontidaeto which the new species belongs are in turn part of a larger group that also includes all living and extinct birds. The skull and legs of Jianianhualong tengi are more similar to those of later representatives of the Troodontidae. However, its arms and pelvis are more similar to earlier species - this discovery suggests that some traits evolved faster than others.
But it's not just the feathers that do it Jianianhualong tengi make it so remarkable. Finally have too Archaeoptyerx and the four-winged one Microraptor, both of which belong to the parent group of Troodontidae and belonging to birds, asymmetrical feathers.
But that these feathers were found on a species that has such a unique place in the phylogenetic tree as Jianianhualong tengi, suggests that such feathers also exist in the common ancestors of birds and Troodontidae occurred. This pushes this link in the family tree back further than previously thought, about 160 million years into the past.
Ryan Carney, a paleontologist and National Geographic fellow who was not involved in the study, suggests that considering feather shape is an important step in evolutionary relationship studies that is often overlooked.
"Knowing that the closest possible common ancestor of birds had asymmetrical feathers is extremely exciting," says Pittman.
The scientists hope to find even more feathered species and to take another look at the previously known species. They want to understand how asymmetrical feathers developed - and whether this development originated in flight or not.
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