STL Science Center

STL Science Center

25 October 2014

Jurassic Peafowl

The display feathers as reconstructed by paleontologists that were working on the initial description were a bit more sparse than those shown later in subsequent illustrations. However, that does not mean that these interpretations are conservative estimates or that they are inaccurate representations of the animal. The number of feathers discovered with the dinosaur is not as important as the fact that the display feathers are known to exist, though. The fact that those feathers are as large as they are also points at the exact use for which they are most often illustrated in as well. Arguments could be made for a more magpie-like situation in which the tail feathers are held directly behind the body, but the more peafowl-like version of holding the tail feathers erect is much more showy and interesting in terms of a display structure. The coloration of the feathers is, of course, all speculation at the moment. Definitive knowledge of the coloration of feathering may be in the near future though (you never know). As for the portrayed posture, it appears rather bird-like, when display postures of extant aves are considered (e.g. Northern Mockingbird). The extension of the arms of this reconstruction is more horizontal and extended less dorsal, but the idea remains the same. Were the forelimbs/wings covered in longer feathers that are not preserved with the remainder of the fossil? There exists the potential for such a thing, but as of now it has not been realized. The rostral skull of the paravian dinosaur is also quite interesting. The skull appears to have some elongation to it, though obviously not entirely like that of a beak or the typical shape of theropod dinosaurs.

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