Exceptionally well preserved dinosaur fossils uncovered in north-eastern China display the earliest known feathers.
New fossil discoveries are always fun news. The idea that some dinosaurs were the ancestors of birds has been around for a long time. This find has moved the appearance of feathers back in time to about 150 million ago.
These animals appear to have a different arrangement that seen with modern birds, in that they seem to have ‘wing feathers’ on all four limbs. There is actually a lot of interesting work showing the interchangeability of the scales on the legs of birds and feathers. Relatively simple genetic changes can produce feathers where none normally exist.
So, it seems to me that finding a fossil which has extensive leg feathers would fit quite nicely. A relatively simple change could result in leg scales instead of feathers.
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