Unfortunately for your wild childhood imagination, paleontologists recently decided that all dinosaurs probably had feathers to help insulate them during the holidays much the same way we hairless mammals use hideous sweaters to keep our nipsies from falling off like scabs in cold weather. A new chain of fossil evidence also suggests that Similicaudiptery, an early oviraptor that pranced jauntily about China, Mongolia, and Alberta during the Cretaceous, may have used feathers to attract mates, just like a peacock or turkey, only bigger, faster, and with teeth. Good luck sleeping tonight!


Scott Persons, a paleontology researcher at the University of Alberta, recently followed a breadcrumb trail of fossil evidence that led him to discover a familiar skeletal phenomenon: the final vertebrae in the tails of Similcaudiptery were fused together, forming the "ridged, blade-like structure" that is so popular among paper hand fan makers. "The structure," according to Persons, "is called a pygostyle. Among modern animals only birds have them."

Since the oviraptor was not known for its aeronautical daring, Persons insists that the supposed tail feathers (no actual fossil evidence of feathers has been found with oviraptors) were deployed as "feathered tail fans" that would help amorous oviraptors attract mates. Persons explained that this hypothesis is mainly supported by the bone and muscle structure of the oviraptor tail, which, it would seem, was perfectly adapted to shaking some prismatic sex feathers at would-be partners.

Best Evidence Yet That Dinosaurs Used Feathers for Courtship [ScienceDaily]

Image via Mykhaylo Palinchak/Shutterstock.

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