Dinosaur Feathers Evolved for Courtship

Dinosaur Feathers Evolved for Courtship

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Research suggests that not only did wings evolve in dinosaurs earlier than previously thought, they may have evolved merely for courtship displays. A study in Science describes three Ornithomimosaur specimens – distantly related to birds – from Canada. Both juvenile and adult specimens had evidence of downy feathers, but only an adult had wing-like structures. That suggests that wings may have evolved not for flight, but rather to aid in the quest to reproduce.

The Ornithomimids – from the Latin for “bird mimics” – superficially resembled modern-day ostriches, with a toothless beak, large eyes and long legs, but they also had a long, thick tail. The new specimens were found in ancient river deposits in Alberta, Canada.

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