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Oct 23, 2008, 1:50pm

Is this a cool little new feathered dinosaur, or what? http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v455/n7216/fig_tab/nature07447_F1.html#figu...

It's becoming increasingly clear that feathers come before birds, but what a wonderful new frontier in the question of "why feathers?"

Oct 23, 2008, 3:24pm

...what a wonderful new frontier in the question of "why feathers?"

Insulation? Something to do with courtship rituals?

Oct 23, 2008, 3:38pm

The long tail feathers I would think must be courtship - unless they provide a rudder or something for fast running.

Insulation makes a lot of sense for general feather development - I can envision an animal with sort of fluffed up scales to create air pockets. (I don't think any fossils of such a thing have been found, though.)

I can remember when the idea that dinosaurs were related to birds was heresy. How much things have changed!