Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Velociraptor Had Feathers

Date:
September 20, 2007
Source:
American Museum of Natural History
Summary:
Finding of quill knobs on fossilized velociraptor bone demonstrates that even large dinosaurs were feathered and may have descended from animals capable of flight. Scientists have known for years that many dinosaurs had feathers. Now the presence of feathers has been documented in velociraptor, one of the most iconic of dinosaurs and a close relative of birds.

(A) View of right ulna of Velociraptor IGM 100/981. (B) Detail from cast of red box in (A), with arrows showing six evenly spaced feather quill knobs. (C) View of right ulna of a turkey vulture (Cathartes). (D) Same view of Cathartes as in (C) but with soft tissue dissected to reveal placement of the secondary feathers relative to the quill knobs. (E) Detail of Cathartes, with one quill completely removed to reveal quill knob. (F) Same view as in (E) but with quill moved to the left to show placement of quill, knob, and follicular ligament. Follicular ligament indicated with arrow.
Credit: Mick Ellison

A new look at some old bones have shown that velociraptor, the dinosaur made famous in the movie Jurassic Park, had feathers. The discovery was made by paleontologists at the American Museum of Natural History and the Field Museum of Natural History.

Scientists have known for years that many dinosaurs had feathers. Now the presence of feathers has been documented in velociraptor, one of the most iconic of dinosaurs and a close relative of birds.

The fossil specimen that the group examined was a velociraptor forearm unearthed in Mongolia in 1998. They found on it clear indications of quill knobs--places where the quills of secondary feathers, the flight or wing feathers of modern birds, were anchored to the bone with ligaments. Quill knobs are also found in many living bird species and are most evident in birds that are strong flyers. Those that primarily soar or that have lost the ability to fly entirely, however, were shown in the study to typically lack signs of quill knobs.

"A lack of quill knobs does not necessarily mean that a dinosaur did not have feathers," said Alan Turner, lead author on the study and a graduate student of paleontology at the American Museum of Natural History and at Columbia University in New York. "Finding quill knobs on velociraptor, though, means that it definitely had feathers. This is something we'd long suspected, but no one had been able to prove."

Previous signs of feathers on dinosaurs had been restricted to fossils found in a particular kind of lake sediment that favored preservation of small-bodied animals.

The velociraptor in the current study stood about three feet tall, was about five feet long, and weighed about 30 pounds. Combined with its relatively short forelimbs compared to a modern bird, this indicated it lacked volant, or flight, abilities. The authors suggest that perhaps an ancestor of velociraptor lost the ability to fly, but retained its feathers. In velociraptor, the feathers may have been useful for display, to shield nests, for temperature control, or to help it maneuver while running.

"The more that we learn about these animals the more we find that there is basically no difference between birds and their closely related dinosaur ancestors like velociraptor," said Mark Norell, a Curator in the Division of Paleontology at the American Museum of Natural History and co-author on the study. "Both have wishbones, brooded their nests, possess hollow bones, and were covered in feathers. If animals like velociraptor were alive today our first impression would be that they were just very unusual looking birds".

The research team also included Peter Makovicky from the Field Museum in Chicago. The work was supported by the National Science Foundation and the American Museum of Natural History.

This research appears in the Sept. 21 issue of the journal Science.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Museum of Natural History. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

American Museum of Natural History. "Velociraptor Had Feathers." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 September 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/09/070920145402.htm>.
American Museum of Natural History. (2007, September 20). Velociraptor Had Feathers. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/09/070920145402.htm
American Museum of Natural History. "Velociraptor Had Feathers." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/09/070920145402.htm (accessed July 25, 2014).

Share This




More Fossils & Ruins News

Friday, July 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Did ISIS Destroy Jonah's Tomb?

Did ISIS Destroy Jonah's Tomb?

Newsy (July 25, 2014) Unverified footage posted to YouTube purportedly shows ISIS militants destroying a shrine widely believed to be the tomb of the prophet Jonah. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Richard III's Car Park Burial Site Opens to Public

Richard III's Car Park Burial Site Opens to Public

AFP (July 25, 2014) Visitors will be able to look down from a glass walkway on the grave of King Richard III when a new centre opens in the English cathedral city of Leicester, where the infamous hunchback was found under a car park in 2012. Duration: 00:35 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Mobile App Gives Tour of Battle of Atlanta Sites

Mobile App Gives Tour of Battle of Atlanta Sites

AP (July 25, 2014) Emory University's Center for Digital Scholarship has launched a self-guided mobile tour app to coincide with the 150th anniversary of the Civil War's Battle of Atlanta. (July 25) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Tyrannosaur Pack-Hunting Theory Aided By New Footprints

Tyrannosaur Pack-Hunting Theory Aided By New Footprints

Newsy (July 24, 2014) A new study claims a set of prehistoric T-Rex footprints supports the theory that the giant predators hunted in packs instead of alone. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins