STL Science Center

STL Science Center

21 December 2013

Feathers or No Feathers

Geological Museum of the Polish Geological Institute in Warsaw
As has been mentioned in the not so distant past, the origin of feathering has not yet been pinpointed. Assuming that the feather origin occurred very early in the history of the Dinosauria we can begin to see models, and illustrations, of even the earliest theropods with feathering. A feathered Dilophosaurus is actually quite appealing, to toss out an opinion. As opposed to some newer models and illustrations of feathered dinosaurs (opinions coming here) this Dilophosaurus reconstruction looks very appropriate as a feathered dinosaur. The feathers of this model, thankfully, are not ostentatious; their "drab" nature and subdued coloration in this reconstruction are quite fitting for a theropod that would want to blend in with its surroundings while hunting.

Pink Palace Museum, Memphis, TN.
The non-feathered version of Dilophosaurus that is still somewhat popular is usually a drab color as well. The tiger striping of black and brown is a common color scheme for theropods of the past and the present though. Ignoring that, there are a few other issues with this particular model that can be found in other tight skinned and non-feathered theropods. The most characteristic mark in the reconstructions with tightly pulled reptilian skins on the skull is the formation of the notched junction of the premaxilla-maxilla. In comparison with the other reconstruction, the eye is portrayed as much smaller as well. Additionally, the crests of this reconstruction are larger and more brightly colored. The crest is also divided by ridges and depressions not apparent in the previous reconstruction. The taut skin of the more reptilian reconstruction is a bit of a call back to an older age; it is a bit of a vintage reconstruction to say the least.

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