Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Dinosaur shook tail feathers for mating show

Date:
January 4, 2013
Source:
University of Alberta
Summary:
A researcher's examination of fossilized dinosaur tail bones has led to a breakthrough finding: some feathered dinosaurs used tail plumage to attract mates, much like modern-day peacocks and turkeys.

Peacock. A University of Alberta researcher's examination of fossilized dinosaur tail bones has led to a breakthrough finding: some feathered dinosaurs used tail plumage to attract mates, much like modern-day peacocks and turkeys.
Credit: qayyum125 / Fotolia

A University of Alberta researcher's examination of fossilized dinosaur tail bones has led to a breakthrough finding: some feathered dinosaurs used tail plumage to attract mates, much like modern-day peacocks and turkeys.

U of A Paleontology researcher Scott Persons followed a chain of fossil evidence that started with a peculiar fusing together of vertebrae at the tip of the tail of four different species of dinosaurs, some separated in time and evolution by 45 million years.

Persons says the final vertebrae in the tails of a group of dinosaurs called oviraptors were fused together forming a ridged, blade-like structure. "The structure is called a pygostyle" says Persons. "Among modern animals only birds have them."

Researchers say fossils of Similicaudiptery, an early oviraptor, reveal feathers radiating from the fused bones at the tail tip. Similicaudiptery was not known to be a flying dinosaur and Persons contends its tail feathers evolved as a means of waving its feathered tail fans.

No direct fossil evidence of feathers has been found with the fossils of the oviraptors that followed Similicaudiptery, but Persons says there is still strong evidence they had a feathered tail.

Persons reasons that because the later oviraptor had the same tail structure as the feathered Similicaudipteryx, the tails of later oviraptors' still served the same purpose, waving feathered tail fans.

Persons says the hypothesis of oviraptor tail waving is supported by both the bone and muscle structure of the tail.

Individual vertebrae at the base of an oviraptor's tail were short and numerous, indicating great flexibility. Based on dissections of modern reptile and bird tails, Persons reconstruction of the dinosaur's tail muscles revealed oviraptors had what it took to really shake their tail feathers.

Large muscles extended far down the tail and had a sufficient number of broad connection points to the vertebrae to propel oviraptor's tail feathers vigorously from side to side and up and down.

Oviraptors were two-legged dinosaurs that had already gone through major diversifications from the iconic, meat eating dinosaur family. Oviraptors were plant eaters that roamed parts of China, Mongolia, and Alberta during the Cretaceous period, the final age of the dinosaur.

"By this time a variety of dinosaurs used feathers for flight and insulation from the cold, "said Persons. "This shows that by the Late Cretaceous dinosaurs were doing everything with feathers that modern birds do now," said Persons.

In addition to feathered-tail waving, oviraptors also had prominent bone crests on their head, which Persons says the dinosaur also may have used in mating displays.

"Between the crested head and feathered-tail shaking, oviraptors had a propensity for visual exhibitionism," said Persons.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Alberta. The original article was written by Brian Murphy. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. W. Scott Persons, IV, Philip J. Currie, and Mark A. Norell. Oviraptorosaur tail forms and functions. Acta Palaeontologica Polonica, 2013; DOI: 10.4202/app.2012.0093

Cite This Page:

University of Alberta. "Dinosaur shook tail feathers for mating show." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 January 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130104083114.htm>.
University of Alberta. (2013, January 4). Dinosaur shook tail feathers for mating show. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130104083114.htm
University of Alberta. "Dinosaur shook tail feathers for mating show." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130104083114.htm (accessed August 21, 2014).

Share This




More Fossils & Ruins News

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Disquieting Times for Malaysia's 'fish Listeners'

Disquieting Times for Malaysia's 'fish Listeners'

AFP (Aug. 19, 2014) Malaysia's last "fish listeners" -- practitioners of a dying local art of listening underwater to locate their quarry -- try to keep the ancient technique alive in the face of industrial trawling and the depletion of stocks. Duration: 02:29 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Mother And Son Find Woolly Mammoth Tusks 22 Years Apart

Mother And Son Find Woolly Mammoth Tusks 22 Years Apart

Newsy (Aug. 15, 2014) A mother and son in Alaska uncovered woolly mammoth tusks in the same river more than two decades apart. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Fossils Reveal Ancient Flying Reptile With 'Butterfly Head'

Fossils Reveal Ancient Flying Reptile With 'Butterfly Head'

Newsy (Aug. 14, 2014) Newly found fossils reveal a previously unknown species of flying reptile with a really weird head, which some say looks like a butterfly. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Clearing WWII's Explosive Legacy in the Pacific

Clearing WWII's Explosive Legacy in the Pacific

AFP (Aug. 11, 2014) The hulks of tanks can still be found rusting in the jungles of Palau, but the fierce fighting that scarred the Pacific island nation in WWII has left a more dangerous legacy - unexploded bombs that pose a constant risk to locals. Duration: 00:47 Video provided by AFP
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