STL Science Center

STL Science Center

14 December 2013

Furred Polar Brrrrs

Leaellynasaura was a polar dinosaur. The area in which Leaellynasaura lived was well below the Antarctic Circle meaning that during part of the year, at least, the Antarctic winter caused that area of Australia to be darker and colder for a longer portion of the day. To combat this the long tailed and large orbited Leaellynasaura could have certainly been feathered, or at least covered in a fine downy coating of adaptive filoplumes. Though, to my knowledge, no evidence of these filoplumes has been recovered with the remains of Leaellynasaura. Ornithopods with this kind of covering, and we may find the evidence for it, then push the origin of filoplumes into a rather odd direction marking it as either independently evolved in multiple lineages (Theropods, Marginocephalians, and then Ornithopods at least) or being derived from a much more ancient common ancestor than previously assumed. Regardless, a furry Leaellynasaura running through the snow covered darkened forests of Antarctic Australia foraging for what little food is available are pretty fantastical and intriguing. It is quite unique as well, of course; thinking of dinosaurs as snow dwelling dinosaurs. The majority of images of Leaellynasaura portray a scaled ornithopod and a feathered, or down, covered version is quite fantastic.

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