STL Science Center

STL Science Center

09 August 2014

Quills and Ceratopsians

The news of the potential pushing back of the origin of quills and feathers in recent mass media outlets is not really news to most paleontologists. While the evidence was not there until recently, the quills and potential feather shafts of ceratopsians have pointed paleontologists in that hypothetical direction for quite some time. Leptoceratops has, as a matter of familial traits if for not other reason, been portrayed with tail quills in the most recent illustrated versions of the dinosaur. Those quills have been popularized on Asian ceratopsians like Pentaceratops and Psittacosaurus. However, it makes perfect sense that the North American Leptoceratops, just a little further down the family tree, might have them also. Leptoceratops does look rather dashing with a tail full of quill knobs we have to admit. Evidence for them for this particular dinosaur does not exist to my knowledge, but with remains discovered from Alberta to Wyoming, there are probably many more remains out there to be uncovered and the evidence may simply be laying just under the surface of the stones.
©Tuomas Koivurinne

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