Dinosaur feathers and the evolution of flight

I am by no means an expert in bird or dinosaur feathers, but one of my advisors at The University of Akron, Dr. Matt Shawkey, is an expert in feather coloration in extant and extinct models (including dinosaurs).  Through our conversations I’ve become familiar with the subject area, including new discoveries.

This month, there have been a lot of important new discoveries related to dinosaur feathers published in academic journals.  I thought I would just collect them here and share them with you at once.

To start out as a great beginning example, I would like to share one of the TED-Ed animations that I liked the most, related to this topic.


Secondly,this PhD comic titled “The Science News Cycle” is also an excellent introduction.

In this comic, it illustrates how new scientific discoveries are misrepresented by the media, often deviating more and more from actual experimental results as the story is passed among various outlets.

In The following links, you can get some real examples by just reading the titles.

The source of those links can be separated into three different categories: 1. Original scientific papers; 2. University PR office; 3. Scientific news outlets.

Example 1.

category #1: New specimen of Archaeopteryx provides insights into the evolution of pennaceous feathers (Nature, July 3)

category #3: Early bird Archaeopteryx ‘wore feather trousers’ for display

Example 2.

category #1: A new raptorial dinosaur with exceptionally long feathering provides insights into dromaeosaurid flight performance (Nature Communications, July 15)

category #2: New feathered dinosaur from China sheds light on dinosaur flight

Example 3.

category #1: A Jurassic ornithischian dinosaur from Siberia with both feathers and scales (Science, July 25)

category #2: Fossils found in Siberia suggest all dinosaurs had feathers

The bottom line is: When you are interested in an article you just read or the knowledge you just learned, refer back to the original scientific paper whenever it is possible.  This is especially important for biomimicry. Because only based on scientific facts, biomimicry can achieve its true potential.

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