Birds are known as colorful feathers that they use to fly, flirt, and warm. But long before the birds were ever waving their wings, flying reptiles, called pterosaurs, grabbed the sky.
Among the paleontologists there was a long-standing assumption that winged beards had no feathers. But the research team has discovered what they believe to be small structures hiding from the fossils of two pterosaurs in China, which they say are feathers – not so elegant but comparable to the feathering of birds and dinosaurs.
Some individuals may need to confirm the findings that other paleontologists questioned. But if that's true, it would attract the origin of butterflies for about 70 million years and is also the first time feathers have been identified by an animal that was not a bird or a dinosaur.
"The feather has a deeper origin, not a bird, but perhaps the ancestors of birds, dinosaurs, and pterosaurs", said in China the paleontologist of the Nanjing University and the leader of the Fossil Collector. Their research was published on Monday in Nature Ecology & Evolution.
Some pterosaurs torsoed as high as the Giraffes and had wings as wide as the F-16 fighters. Although sometimes described as scaly beasts, the fossil record has revealed a lot of ferocious pterosaurs that are coated mites made of small structures called pnoofibers. Unlike bird feathers with a central shaft with smaller axes branching, pterosaur pincers were believed to be simple strings that resemble hair or coats.
Both samples were mostly covered with honeycomb-like, non-branched pycophosphates. But the team then found one type of branched structure that looked like an arched paint brush, neck, part of the front and foot area, and a tail of a sample. The second structure found at the end of the same specimen was the center axis, which branched near the center point almost like a loose rope. And the last one found on both pterosaurus wingmembraans looked coarse like chicken down feathers.
Unlike modern birds, stylish, aerodynamically designed feathers, these feathers were most likely to be insulation, the researchers said.
Some paleontologists had originally tied the origin of the feather to dinosaurs about 180 million years ago in Early and Mid-Jurassic. Although these pterosaurus samples were about 160-165 million years old, their surname returned about 230 million years ago, and the new observation adds evidence to the fact that birds, dinosaurs and pterosaurs had a common performer either feathered or at least had genes to breed them .
The researchers reported on their findings with the paleobiologist of the University of Pisa, Mary McNamara, who conducted a scanning electron microscope analysis.
"When I look at these samples and branching, I do not believe it," McNamara said.
His vision changed, he said as he saw a systematic arrangement of a sensitive branch. But other scientists have kept skepticism.
"I would not say that the evidence is overwhelming, but certain images seem to appear to be filaments," says the evolutionary biologist Matthew Shawkey of the Belgian University of Ghent. "But of course there are many things in the natural branch, like the branches of a tree, so this does not mean that they are actually feathers."
Others were not so unclear.
"I do not use the term feathers to describe these structures," said paleontologist Julia Clarke of the University of Texas at Austin, who added that she would like to use a different name for them, such as branched filaments or branched integral structures.
The palaeontologist Jingmai O & # 39; s Institute of Paleontology and Paleoanthropology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences of Beijing, Beijing, warned that feathers and feather structures were difficult to interpret from flattened fossils.
"I do not know if the morphologies described in the pynofibers of this sample are valid," Conner said. "Dinosaurs have made similar unusual featherpeptoprepipe requirements, which are slowly overturned one by one, only time and better shows tell."
But Michael Benton, the paleontologist at the University of Bristol in England and the author of the research, said that the structures were compatible with bird and dinosaur observations.
"These three other types are branching," he said, "and if you just take the definition of a dictionary that is a feather, it's a feather."