STL Science Center

STL Science Center

04 October 2017

The Furry Tails

© Román García Mora
Feathered dinosaurs are nothing new. In 2012 they were not really all that new, though the number of theropod, non-avian, dinosaurs that we knew had feathers was on the rise and the evidence from the fossil record was becoming not just more numerous but also clearer. Fossils like Sciurumimus represented the clearness of fossil integument in ways that previous discoveries simply had not been able to. In part this new picture of feathers was due to new methods; in Sciurumimus those new methods included filtered UV light enhancing the micro-details on the slab of the fossil. One of the benefits of this method has been that the UV light enhances the collagen and feather filaments in different ways. Because of this, collagen fibers of the skin can be differentiated from the feathers that covered the dorsal and caudal portions of Sciurumimus. Instead of simply stating that Sciurumimus was covered all over with feathers because some feathery structures were found, the actual amount of feathery covering, or at least a much better estimation, results from being able to differentiate the fibers as well. This has been well portrayed over and over again in the world of illustration.

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