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Johan Lindgren, Peter Sjövall, Ryan Carney, Aude Cincotta, Per Uvdal, Steven Hutcheson, Ola Gustafsson, Ulysse Lefèvre, François Escuillié, Jimmy Heimdal, Anders Engdahl, Johan Gren, Benjamin Kear, Kazumasa Wakamatsu, Johan Yans and Pascal Godefroit (2015)

Molecular composition and ultrastructure of Jurassic paravian feathers

Scientific Reports, 5(13520):1-13.

The Middle-Late Jurassic fossil assemblage found in the Tiaojishan Formation of Liaoning Province in northeastern China has yielded unparalleled evidence on the early evolution of birds1–4. Most importantly, the identification of various feather-like integumental appendages in non-avian and stem avialan theropods has illuminated the diversity and distribution of plumage structures during their adaptive transition towards use in flight4. Epidermal traces in the Tiaojishan Formation are preserved as either faint impressions or phosphatised and carbonised residues4,5. The latter were long thought to be a product of keratin-degrading bacteria6. However, more recent interpretations have favoured fossilised melanosomes; that is, melanin-bearing cellular organelles responsible in part for the colouration of skin and its structural derivatives7. This landmark hypothesis has spawned an entirely new field of exploratory inference into dinosaurian colour5,7–11, behaviour5 and physiology12.
Peer Review, Open Access, Impact Factor
Paleontology
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