A new study has provided strong evidence that the first fossil feather discovered so far is that of the iconic Archeopteryx, a bird-like dinosaur named to this day in 1861 in Germany. It is a recent theory that fossil feathers originated from a different species.
Research published in Scientific report Finds that the Jurassic fossil corresponds to a type of winged feather called the primary mantle. The primary cover overlays the primary wings and propels the birds through the air. An international team of scientists led by the University of South Florida analyzed nine properties of feathers, particularly long quill, with data on modern birds. They also examined 13 known skeletal fossils of Archeopteryx, three of which have well-preserved primary coverings. The researchers found that the top surface of an Archeopteryx wing has primary veils that are similar in shape and size to the isolated wing. The isolated wing was also from the same fossil site as the four skeletons of Archeopteryx, which confirms their findings.
“For the last 159 years there has been a debate as to whether this feather belongs to the same species of Archeopteryx skeleton, as well as where it came from on the body and what is its original color,” said lead author Ryan Carney, assistant professor Of integrated biology at said USF. “Through scientific espionage work that combines new techniques with old fossils and literature, we were finally able to unravel these centuries-old mysteries.”
Using a special type of electron microscope, the researchers determined that the wing came from the left wing. They also detected melanosomes, which are microscopic pigment structures. After refining his color reconstruction, he found that the feather was completely black, not black and white as another study has claimed.
Carney’s expertise on archeopteryx and diseases led the National Geographic Society to be named the “Emerging Explorer”, an honor that comes with a $ 10,000 grant for research and exploration. He also teaches a course at USF, called “Digital Dinosaurs”. Students use digitally, animate and 3-D-print fossils to provide valuable experience in the fields of paleontology and steam.
The previously discovered fossil feather was not related to the iconic bird Archeopteryx
Evidence confirms the identity of the isolated fossil feather as the wing cover of Archeopteryx. Scientific report (2020). doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-65336-y
Provided by University of South Florida
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