Welcome to my Metazoic site! This site discusses the existence of the creatures to come along after humans will be extinct. I first became interested in a world after man when I acquired my first copy of Dougal Dixon's After Man: A Zoology of the Future in 1992. However, I unwittingly created creatures that did not exist from the time I was about 8 years old. But it was after I obtained a copy of that book (now a collector's item) that I decided to take these same creatures I created as a child and make them more realistic in an evolutionary sense. Though it may be hard for a lot of us to grasp, humans will soon become extinct. One of the biggest factors of how this will happen is the current overpopulation rate. Which is why I don't contribute to the population. I created this world with little more than mammals fulfilling all ecological niches with the help of some friends. I even gave the era of the age after man a name, I called it the Metazoic, derived from the words for "After-era" (Meta, meaning after, and zoic meaning era). We are now in the Cenozoic era. To view all the animals I have created since I began this project, you can go to the "Meet the Mammals" section of this site. To discuss your own ideas about what you think will happen in the future world, and share your ideas with others, please feel free to leave a comment.
One more thing, some of you may find this site quite offensive, and you have a right to your own opinion. But please respect my right to have an opinion too. I'm not saying there is no GOD, I believe it was HIM who got the ball rolling. But I believe after that, evolution took over. There is so much more evidence of evolution than there is of creation. Even that going on right under our noses. Other than that, enjoy yourself and visit our many links.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Earliest Feathers for Display, Not Flight

This is the third great article I found today, all about the earliest feathers on dinosaurs. Many people believed the earliest feathered animals evolved for flight, nothing else. But this article says that is not necessarily so. Though flight is surely the end result, it is not the only reason dinosaurs (who would later become birds) evolved feathers. Apparently a female dinosaur found the best-looking males by judging their feather patterns.

http://dsc.discovery.com/news/2009/01/12/dinosaur-feathers.html

Earliest Feathers for Show, Not Flight
Jennifer Viegas, Discovery News

Jan. 12, 2009 -- The world's first feathers probably had nothing to do with flight or staying warm but were instead for showy display purposes, according to a new study that documents the most primitive known version of feathers, which were found on a Chinese dinosaur.

The dinosaur, Beipiaosaurus, sported the likely colorful feathers on its limbs, trunk, tail, head and neck, with the neck feathers resembling a lion's mane.

Paleontologists now believe feathers evolved very early in archosaurs, the group that included dinosaurs, pterosaurs and relatives of crocodiles, in addition to today's modern birds, crocodiles and alligators.

"Our analysis suggests that feathers might have a much longer history than previously thought," lead author Xing Xu told Discovery News.

"The first feathers might have appeared in the fossil record in the Middle Triassic about 235 million years ago," said Xu, a paleontologist at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing.

Xu and colleagues Xiaoting Zheng and Hailu You studied the remains of the Chinese dinosaur, which was excavated at the Early Cretaceous Yixian Formation of Jianchang, western Liaoning. They noticed two types of feathers on the specimen: short, thread-like structures, and longer, stiff, broader ones that represent the rudimentary feathers, according to the study.

Both types are described in a paper published in this week's Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Similar structures have been found on Psittacosaurus, or "Parrot Lizard," as well as some pterosaurs. The researchers therefore suspect the common ancestor of these creatures -- along with Beipiaosaurus, which lived 125 million years ago -- had the early feathers too.

Previously documented feathers on dinosaurs were described as having multiple filaments, or many fluff-creating strands. The feathers on the recently documented Chinese dinosaur, however, are believed to represent a much more primitive stage, since the feathers consist of just a single broad filament, but have a different structure than hair.

The morphology and distribution of these early feathers rule out use for flight and helping to keep the dinosaur warm, but instead suggest they were flashed during displays, perhaps for mating, identification and competition purposes.

"Most previous studies suggest that insulation might have been the primary function for the first feathers, but our discovery supports that display represents one of the earliest functions for feathers," Xu said, adding that "flight function appears very late in feather evolution."

The discovery negates the prior theory that feathers and flight co-evolved. It instead indicates pterosaurs, birds and other fliers recruited already existing feathers for flight.

Xu and her colleagues aren't certain how feathers came into being in the first place, but they suspect that at some point, an animal's skin developed epidermal tissue that gave rise to the thin, tubular protrusions. Members of the opposite sex must have liked what they saw in displays, since the trait stuck and flourished. An average bird today has over 20,000 feathers.

Cheng-Ming Chuong and his team from the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California foreshadowed the recent discovery. Their studies on chickens predicted what these first, more basic, feathers would've looked like.

"Just like Rome, feathers are not made in one process," Chuong said, hinting that a long and colorful history for feathers would likely emerge as more findings, such as the new discovery on Beipiaosaurus, come to light.

He added, "While Darwin's theory has explained the 'why' of evolution, much of the 'how' remains to be learned. Evo-Devo (evolution of development) research promises a new level of understanding."

The remains of the flashy, primitive-feathered Chinese dinosaur are now housed at the Shandong Tianyu Museum of Nature in China.

2 comments:

Metalraptor said...

What I find interesting is that some scientists now believe they can tell the "color" of the dinosaur due to feathers. In analyzed feathers of Bepiaosaurus, scientists found proteins that in birds, synthesize a brown, black, or blue color. Perhaps one day we can actually figure out exactly what color dinosaurs were...

Timgal said...

It'd be very interesting to be able to tell what color the dinosaurs really were. It's already cool that they figured out which ones had feathers! Makes one wonder, did dinosaurs really freeze to death?