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Fossilized skin reveals coevolution with feathers and metabolism in feathered dinosaurs and early birds

Published on Dec 1, 2018in Nature Communications 11.88
· DOI :10.1038/s41467-018-04443-x
Maria E. McNamara12
Estimated H-index: 12
(UCC: University College Cork),
Fucheng Zhang31
Estimated H-index: 31
(LYU: Linyi University)
+ 9 AuthorsZHOUZhonghe47
Estimated H-index: 47
Cite
Abstract
Feathers are remarkable evolutionary innovations that are associated with complex adaptations of the skin in modern birds. Fossilised feathers in non-avian dinosaurs and basal birds provide insights into feather evolution, but how associated integumentary adaptations evolved is unclear. Here we report the discovery of fossil skin, preserved with remarkable nanoscale fidelity, in three non-avian maniraptoran dinosaurs and a basal bird from the Cretaceous Jehol biota (China). The skin comprises patches of desquamating epidermal corneocytes that preserve a cytoskeletal array of helically coiled α-keratin tonofibrils. This structure confirms that basal birds and non-avian dinosaurs shed small epidermal flakes as in modern mammals and birds, but structural differences imply that these Cretaceous taxa had lower body heat production than modern birds. Feathered epidermis acquired many, but not all, anatomically modern attributes close to the base of the Maniraptora by the Middle Jurassic.
  • References (42)
  • Citations (1)
Cite
References42
Newest
Published on Dec 14, 2016in PLOS ONE 2.78
Amanda R. Falk8
Estimated H-index: 8
,
Thomas G. Kaye9
Estimated H-index: 9
+ 2 AuthorsMatthew D. Shawkey30
Estimated H-index: 30
Published on Jul 1, 2016in Cretaceous Research 2.12
Aaron J. van der Reest2
Estimated H-index: 2
(U of A: University of Alberta),
Alexander P. Wolfe47
Estimated H-index: 47
(U of A: University of Alberta),
Philip J. Currie50
Estimated H-index: 50
(U of A: University of Alberta)
Abstract We confirm the presence of pigmented keratinized integumentary structures attributable to feathers in the Late Cretaceous Ornithomimus specimen UALVP 52531. We falsify the hypothesis that these features represent collagen fibers and address additional criticisms of our paper made by Lingham-Soliar (2016).
Published on Apr 1, 2016in Current Biology 9.19
Maria E. McNamara12
Estimated H-index: 12
(UCC: University College Cork),
Patrick J. Orr23
Estimated H-index: 23
(UCD: University College Dublin)
+ 3 AuthorsEnrique Peñalver17
Estimated H-index: 17
(Instituto Geológico y Minero de España)
Summary Evidence of original coloration in fossils provides insights into the visual communication strategies used by ancient animals and the functional evolution of coloration over time [1–7]. Hitherto, all reconstructions of the colors of reptile integument and the plumage of fossil birds and feathered dinosaurs have been of melanin-based coloration [1–6]. Extant animals also use other mechanisms for producing color [8], but these have not been identified in fossils. Here we report the first e...
Published on Mar 1, 2016in Cretaceous Research 2.12
Aaron J. van der Reest2
Estimated H-index: 2
(U of A: University of Alberta),
Alexander P. Wolfe47
Estimated H-index: 47
(U of A: University of Alberta),
Philip J. Currie50
Estimated H-index: 50
(U of A: University of Alberta)
Abstract A recently discovered articulated partial skeleton of Ornithomimus from the Upper Cretaceous Dinosaur Park Formation of Alberta, Canada is remarkable in the extent and quality of preservation of integumentary structures including feathers. It is the first ornithomimid to preserve a tail bearing extensive plumaceous feathers that are slightly more elongate in comparison to those present on the remainder of the body. However, the underside of the tail and the hind limb distal to the middl...
Published on Dec 1, 2015in Scientific Reports 4.01
Guillermo Navalón2
Estimated H-index: 2
(UoB: University of Bristol),
Jesús Marugán-Lobón2
Estimated H-index: 2
(UoB: University of Bristol)
+ 2 AuthorsAngela D. Buscalioni24
Estimated H-index: 24
(UAM: Autonomous University of Madrid)
Despite a wealth of fossils of Mesozoic birds revealing evidence of plumage and other soft-tissue structures, the epidermal and dermal anatomy of their wing’s patagia remain largely unknown. We describe a distal forelimb of an enantiornithine bird from the Lower Cretaceous limestones of Las Hoyas, Spain, which reveals the overall morphology of the integument of the wing and other connective structures associated with the insertion of flight feathers. The integumentary anatomy, and myological and...
Published on Dec 12, 2014in Science 41.04
Xing Xu41
Estimated H-index: 41
(CAS: Chinese Academy of Sciences),
ZHOUZhonghe47
Estimated H-index: 47
(CAS: Chinese Academy of Sciences)
+ 4 AuthorsDavid J. Varricchio28
Estimated H-index: 28
(MSU: Montana State University)
Research on the origin and evolution of birds has gathered pace in recent years, aided by a continuous stream of new fossil finds as well as molecular phylogenies. Bird origins, in particular, are now better understood than those of mammals, for which the early fossil record is relatively poor compared with that of birds. Xu et al. review progress in tracing the origins of birds from theropod dinosaurs, focusing especially on recent fossil finds of feathered dinosaurs of northeastern China. They...
Published on Jul 25, 2014in Science 41.04
Pascal Godefroit20
Estimated H-index: 20
(Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences),
Sofia M. Sinitsa2
Estimated H-index: 2
+ 5 AuthorsPaul Spagna7
Estimated H-index: 7
(Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences)
Middle Jurassic to Early Cretaceous deposits from northeastern China have yielded varied theropod dinosaurs bearing feathers. Filamentous integumentary structures have also been described in ornithischian dinosaurs, but whether these filaments can be regarded as part of the evolutionary lineage toward feathers remains controversial. Here we describe a new basal neornithischian dinosaur from the Jurassic of Siberia with small scales around the distal hindlimb, larger imbricated scales around the ...
Published on Dec 1, 2013in Nature Communications 11.88
Gareth J. Dyke28
Estimated H-index: 28
(University of Southampton),
Roeland de Kat12
Estimated H-index: 12
+ 3 AuthorsBharathram Ganapathisubramani23
Estimated H-index: 23
Some early flying dinosaurs, such as the Early Creataceous Microraptor, possessed four wings, but their aerodynamic performance is poorly understood. Dyke et al. show that Microraptor did not require sophisticated wing morphology to undertake effective glides, supporting the view that the origin of feathers in dinosaurs is not associated with flight.
Lena Ramms3
Estimated H-index: 3
(Forschungszentrum Jülich),
Gloria Fabris3
Estimated H-index: 3
(Forschungszentrum Jülich)
+ 11 AuthorsUwe Schnakenberg25
Estimated H-index: 25
(RWTH Aachen University)
Keratins are major components of the epithelial cytoskeleton and are believed to play a vital role for mechanical integrity at the cellular and tissue level. Keratinocytes as the main cell type of the epidermis express a differentiation-specific set of type I and type II keratins forming a stable network and are major contributors of keratinocyte mechanical properties. However, owing to compensatory keratin expression, the overall contribution of keratins to cell mechanics was difficult to exami...
Oliver W. M. Rauhut28
Estimated H-index: 28
,
Christian Foth11
Estimated H-index: 11
+ 1 AuthorsMark A. Norell57
Estimated H-index: 57
Recent discoveries in Asia have greatly increased our understanding of the evolution of dinosaurs’ integumentary structures, revealing a previously unexpected diversity of “protofeathers” and feathers. However, all theropod dinosaurs with preserved feathers reported so far are coelurosaurs. Evidence for filaments or feathers in noncoelurosaurian theropods is circumstantial and debated. Here we report an exceptionally preserved skeleton of a juvenile megalosauroid, Sciurumimus albersdoerferi n. g...
Cited By1
Newest
Published on Jun 1, 2019in Trends in Ecology and Evolution 15.24
Michael J. Benton66
Estimated H-index: 66
(UoB: University of Bristol),
Danielle Dhouailly25
Estimated H-index: 25
+ 1 AuthorsMaria E. McNamara12
Estimated H-index: 12
(UCC: University College Cork)
Feathers have long been regarded as the innovation that drove the success of birds. However, feathers have been reported from close dinosaurian relatives of birds, and now from ornithischian dinosaurs and pterosaurs, the cousins of dinosaurs. Incomplete preservation makes these reports controversial. If true, these findings shift the origin of feathers back 80 million years before the origin of birds. Gene regulatory networks show the deep homology of scales, feathers, and hairs. Hair and feathe...
Published on Feb 11, 2019in Systematic Biology 10.27
Joyce C Havstad (Oakland University), N. Adam Smith10
Estimated H-index: 10
(Clemson University)