DINOSAURS WITH COLORED FEATHERS. I remember when science articles discussed the theory that birds are descended from dinosaurs as being a maverick view. A problem for its proponents was a lack of evidence. This wikipedia article describes how “it was not until the early 1990s that clearly nonavian dinosaur fossils were discovered with preserved feathers.” Now this article from the New York Times reports that scientists have shown that melanosomes (pigment loaded sacs) survived for millions of years in fossil bird feathers. Studies of feathers provide additional support for the theory that birds descended from a group of bipedal dinosaurs called theropods. Anchiornis (anchioris huxleyi), a chicken-sized theropod, had long feathers on its arms and legs. The melanosomes from Anchiornis fossils permit a description of Anchiornis which sounds like it came from one of my bird books: “Anchiornis had a crown of reddish feathers surrounding dark gray ones, and its face was mottled with reddish and black spots. Its body was dark gray, but its limb feathers were white with black tips.” There is a color picture of an Anchioris in the New York Times article.

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