Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Ancient Dinobird Wore Black and White

The mysterious dinobird archaeopteryx probably sported light-and-dark patterned plumage as illustrated here, new research suggests.

A transitional species that represents a link between dinosaurs and birds may have sported pale feathers that were dark at the tips, a new study suggests.

For the study, detailed in the June 13 issue of the Journal of Analytical Atomic Spectrometry, researchers used an X-ray beam to identify ancient traces of pigment in fossils of Archaeopteryx, a winged creature that lived about 150 million years ago.

"This work refines our understanding of pigment patterning in perhaps the most important known fossil. Our technique shows that complex patterns were present even at the very earliest steps in the evolution of birds," said study co-author Roy Wogelius, an earth scientist at Manchester University in the United Kingdom, in a statement.

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