30 January 2009

Birds(?) of a Feather

The next time you are eating a piece of turkey or chicken, remember that you are eating dinosaur -- or, at least, the avian descendant of the otherwise extinct animals.

Today's Wall Street Journal had a really interesting article about how the fossil record is slowly revealing the evolution of feathers in animals like the beipiaosaur (pictured) which, although not an ancestor of modern birds, was a reptile with feather-like covering on its body. This is an example of convergence -- where two otherwise unrelated animals hit upon the same solution for a problem. In this case, the problem was not flight; rather, probably warmth or camouflage.

Even though it did not lead to modern birds, the beipiaosaur (and other animals that evolved feather-like structures) are helping paleontologists track the evolution of the feather.

You can read the article here.

You can read more about the beipiaosaur here.

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