"It kinda takes something away from t-rex if it has feathers."
You see him moving through the colonnade of tree trunks, huge and impossibly silent. You can’t help but gasp. That was a mistake. He stops and snaps his massive head in your direction, his eyes flashing against his hulking silhouette. He chuffs quietly. You see the plume of breath spill from his toothy jaws. You keep perfectly still. The forest seems to hold her breath. Maybe he doesn’t see you. Maybe that movie was right. But your heart sinks as he fixes his eyes on yours and his lion’s mane of bristly black feathers stands on end. He definitely sees you.
(In other words, feathers don’t take anything away from t-rex. You’re just not using your imagination properly.)
Interesting. Hopefully we'll find more microraptorines and get a better idea of the size range of gliding dromaeosaurs? Do you agree with Planet Dinosaur that Microraptor and kin's leg feathers would've gotten in the way of walking?
No, I don’t agree that legwings (or pennaceous feathered “trousers”) would have necessarily gotten in the way of walking. Two reasons come to mind, and one comes from functional morphology and the other from evolutionary logic. First, assuming these structures would impede walking requires a certain lack of imagination: we don’t yet know for sure how an animal like Microraptor would have held its legwings, but one reasonable idea is that they were splayed in a manner not dissimilar to fancy pigeons, which have little trouble walking despite being selectively bred for this admittedly unnatural trait. Another idea is that they folded and overlapped like regular wings do, with the metatarsal section of the legwing being under some amount of muscular control and folding under the tibiotarsal section. Matt Martyniuk draws his Microraptor legwings in such a manner. In either case, the feet are relatively unimpeded by the structures.
Another important point to keep in mind comes from how evolution itself works - and doesn’t work. Walking (and running, leaping, and other ambulatory activities) is an invaluable part of the tetrapod legacy, and it’s only given up in cases of extreme adaptation to other ways of life that make the loss worthwhile. One example is loons, grebes and other diving birds whose entire morphology is built around their capacity to dive at high speeds. In these animals, their ability to walk on land is severely limited by the exaggerated posterior placement of the feet. Swifts and hummingbirds (a group whose order name literally means “footless” because early naturalists thought they didn’t have them) are another example, and their feet are useful for almost nothing but clinging. This is because they are extraordinary specialist flyers, some of the best in the world.
Microraptor, however, has been demonstrated to NOT be an aerial specialist! (Nor does it seem to be a specialist of any other sort, including its diet.) It’s very unlikely that it would have lost performance of such a basic function without evolving a comparable specialty. In my view, Microraptor was a fairly generalized crappy glider that was reasonably adept at walking, running, climbing and leaping.
A depiction of Yutyrannus made after its discover, with a woodpecker-like colour scheme. Yes, I like black and white dinosaurs. Yes, I like them a lot.
Yutyrannus (meaning “feathered tyrant”) is a genus of tyrannosauroid dinosaurs which contains a single species, Yutyrannus huali. This species lived during the early Cretaceous period in what is now northeastern China. Three fossils of Y. huali - all found in the rock beds of Liaoning Province - are currently the largest known dinosaur specimens that preserve direct evidence of feathers.
Yutyrannus, the Featherd Tyrant, 2012.
Coloured with Tria Markers. Based on woodpeckers.
You’ve never seen a dinosaur, naturally, but you probably have a pretty good idea of what they look like. We’ve seen the same look over and over, across dozens of movies, books and museums: There’s…
Funny that this would break embargo mere minutes after my response to a question about dinofuzz. Definitely strengthens the idea that dinosaurs (and maybe the common ancestor of pterosaurs and dinosaurs) were primitively fuzzy.
Middle Jurassic to Early Cretaceous deposits from northeastern China have yielded varied theropod dinosaurs bearing feathers. Filamentous integumentary structures have also been described in ornithischian dinosaurs, but whether these filaments can be regarded as part of the evolutionary lineage toward feathers remains controversial. Here we describe a new basal neornithischian dinosaur from the Jurassic of Siberia with small scales around the distal hindlimb, larger imbricated scales around the tail, monofilaments around the head and the thorax, and more complex featherlike structures around the humerus, the femur, and the tibia. The discovery of these branched integumentary structures outside theropods suggests that featherlike structures coexisted with scales and were potentially widespread among the entire dinosaur clade; feathers may thus have been present in the earliest dinosaurs.
Pay-walled, but a link to pictures
I wanted to use up those dyed pheasant feathers I’d accidentally bought, so here’s a quick little generic Microraptor hopping off a rock.
I also wanted to try sticking something on eBay to see what happens, but was wary of putting up anything too involved since it’ll probably end up selling for much less than I’d normally charge. ^^;
A phylogeny of maniraptors - a gift for albertonykus for being awesome :D
Whipped up from recent avian phylogenies & Dr. Holtz’ Theropod cladograms. Green = extant lineages, brown = extinct. Yeah, the non-avian maniraptors are a little sparse, I apologize for that, but one of my main goals was to create a ‘consensus’ of multiple trees. The birds relationships are slowly stabilizing, but we have a long way to go.
Any inaccuracies or changes, please let me know.
Images from PhyloPic - http://phylopic.org/
My recent acrylic painting of my T.rex, Helushka.
To have a better look it, visit my deviantArt page and/or Facebook page.
#tyrannosaurus #tyrannosaurid #paleoart #art #dinosaurs #painting