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Evolutionary History of Bird Feathers
Matthew F. Tabor
Origin of Feathers
– Development and Evolutionary Origin of Feathers, 1999
Reptiles in hot climates tend to have longer scales, perhaps as a shield to intense solar radiation.
Regal – The Evolutionary Origin of Feathers, 1975
- Modern bird plumage reflects UV light.
- Birds can see UV light.
- This adaptation might facilitate UV
protection, display, or both.
Bennett & Owens – Evolutionary Ecology of Birds, 2002
squamate scales.Dhouailly - A new scenario for the evolutionary origin of hair,feather, and avian scales, 2009
Feathers may originate from claws, rather than scales.
Kaiser – The Inner Bird: Anatomy and Evolution, 2007Slide4
Origin of Feathers cont.
Filamentous integumentary structures may have been dermal, rather than epidermal.
Some basal proto-feathers don’t appear to have been useful for insulation
(this conflicts with
et al, top right)
Different dinosaurs may have
evolved or lost feathers for different reasons.
– Dinosaurs: Fuzzy origins for feathers, 2009http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2012/apr/04/giant-feathered-dinosaur-china-big-fly#_
Early proto-feathers were probably used for insulation and adapted later for display and camouflage.
Longrich et al. - Primitive Wing Feather Arrangement in Archaeopteryx lithographica and Anchiornis huxleyi, 2012
Different Types of Feathers
Proto-feathers, Quills, “Dinofuzz”
Lawrence M. Witmer – Dinosaurs: Fuzzy origins for feathers, 2009Ribbon-like feathersZhang, et al - A bizarre Jurassic maniraptoran from China with elongate ribbon-like feathers, 2008PennaceousDown
Other Possible Uses of Feathers
“…by the Late
Cretaceous, dinosaurs were doing everything with feathers that modern birds do now…”Scott Persons, Paleontology Researcher - University of Albertahttp://phys.org/news/2013-01-evidence-dinosaurs-feathers-courtship.html#nRlv
ribbon-like tail feathers could have served as ornamentation as well as balancing tools for help with creeping along tree branches.”
- Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing
- Dinosaurs were probably visually oriented
Witmer, Anatomist – Ohio State University- Proto-feathers may have resembled porcupine quills.- May have made smaller animals look bigger.Paul Sereno, Paleontologist – University of Chicagohttp
feathers served primarily in the creation of a visual cue capable of triggering a behavioral response in an individual perceiving this
et al. - Feathers
, Dinosaurs, and Behavioral Cues: Defining the Visual Display Hypothesis for the Adaptive Function of Feathers in Non-Avian
comparisons with melanosome shape and density in extant feathers indicate that the body was gray and dark and the face had rufous speckles. The crown was rufous, and the long limb feathers were white with distal black spangles.
““The evolution of melanin-based within-feather pigmentation patterns may coincide with that of elongate pennaceous
feathers in the common ancestor of Maniraptora, before active powered flight.”“Feathers may thus have played a role in sexual selection or other communication. “Li et al. - Plumage Color Patterns of an Extinct Dinosaur, 2010Slide8
Feathers and even “Wings” Predate Birds
dinosaur was covered in down-like feathers throughout life, but only older individuals developed larger feathers on the arms, forming wing-like
This discovery of early wings in dinosaurs too big to fly indicates the initial use of these structures was not for flight.
fact that wing-like forelimbs developed in more mature individuals suggests they were used only later in life, perhaps associated with reproductive behaviors like display or egg
Zelenitsky, et al. - Feathered Non-Avian Dinosaurs from North America Provide Insight into Wing
Sexual Selection and the
individual with a well developed sexually selected character [such as a peacock's flashy tail] is an individual which has survived a test. A female which could discriminate between a male possessing a sexually selected character, from one without it, can discriminate between a male which has passed a test and one which has not been tested. Females which selected males with the most developed characters can be sure that they have selected from among the best genotypes of the male population
Peacocks with the most eye spots (greatest train volume) really do have the healthiest offspring!
Petrie - Improved growth and survival of offspring of peacocks with more elaborate
Sexual preference becomes reliably coupled with honest signaling, creating a positive feedback loop.
and other Oviraptors likely shook their
plummage in courtship displaysPersons et al - Oviraptorosaur tail forms and functions, 2013Friend - Animal Talk: Breaking the Codes of Animal Language, 2004Slide10
Uses of Pre-flight Feathers
PhysicalProtection from UV radiationThermoregulationNestingBalanceBody ProtectionWater resistance“Trapping” prey
Sexual selection & competition
Multiple avian anatomical and behavioral characteristics predate flight by millions of years.
Flight was a bonus of avian evolution; not a “goal.”Multiple avian features were adaptations to selection pressures unrelated to flight, but were coopted to flight in late theropod evolution.Only one of these clades survived the K-T extinction event and was ecologically released as modern birds.Emergence of flight was multifactorial and cannot be reduced to a single simple model.Slide14
Bennett & Owens (2002)
Evolutionary Ecology of Birds
. Oxford, NY: Oxford University Press
(2009) A new scenario for the evolutionary origin of hair, feather, and avian scales.
Journal of Anatomy
, 214(4), 587–606.
, Cabin & Brooks (2011) Feathers, Dinosaurs, and Behavioral Cues: Defining the Visual Display Hypothesis for the Adaptive Function of Feathers in Non-Avian
. BIOS, 82(3), 58-63:
doi: 10.1893/011.082.0302Friend (2004) Animal Talk: Breaking the Codes of Animal Language
. New York, NY: Free PressKaiser (2007) The Inner Bird: Anatomy and Evolution. University of British Columbia PressLi, Gao, Vinther, Shawkey, Clarke, D’Alba
, Meng, Briggs & Prum (2010) Plumage Color Patterns of an Extinct Dinosaur. Science, 327 (5971), 1369-1372: doi: 10.1126/science.1186290Longrich, Vinther, Meng, Li & Russell (2012) Primitive Wing Feather Arrangement in Archaeopteryx lithographica and Anchiornis
, 22, 1–6:
Persons, Currie &
tail forms and functions.
Petrie (1994) Improved growth and survival of offspring of peacocks with more elaborate trains.
(1999) Development and Evolutionary Origin of Feathers.
Journal of Experimental Zoology (Molecular and Developmental Evolution)
, 285, 291-306.
(2009) Fuzzy origins for feathers.
, 458, 293-295:
, Kobayashi, Eberth, & Hadfield (2012) Feathered Non-Avian Dinosaurs from North America Provide Insight into Wing Origins.
, 338, 510-14:
, Wang & Sullivan (2008) A bizarre Jurassic
from China with elongate ribbon-like feathers.
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Matthew F Tabor httpsenwikipediaorgwikiArchaeopteryx httpoficinacienciavivaptpw011jazidasinterrelacoestheropodahtml Bird Phylogeny Origin of Feathers Prum Development and Evolutionary Origin of Feathers 1999 ID: 280109 Download Presentation