An artistic reconstruction of feathered Ornithomimid dinosaurs found in Alberta, Canada. (Photo : Julius Csotonyi)
Mating can be quite an ostentatious display in any species, including our own. From butting horns, to intricate dances, mating has played a crucial role in forcing creatures to evolve. New evidence suggests that mating might have also been the primary reason for wings and feathers in dinosaurs as well.
Scientists uncovered the fossils of dinosaurs known as Ornithomimosaurs from Alberta Canada. The fossils represent the first dinosaurs with feathers in North America. The Latin meaning of Ornithomimid is "bird mimics," and the dinosaurs bear a striking resemblance to modern-day ostriches.
"This is a really exciting discovery as it represents the first feathered dinosaur specimens found in the Western Hemisphere," lead author of the study Dr.Zelenitsky said. "Furthermore, despite the many Ornithomimid skeletons known, these specimens are also the first to reveal that ornithomimids were covered in feathers, like several other groups of theropod dinosaurs."
It turns out that the juvenile fossils indicated that young Ornithomimosaurs had feathers, but only the adults seems to have had wing-like appendages. This could mean that early wings may have sprouted, in literal terms, due to puberty and for reproductive reasons.
"The presence of the primitive wings in these relatively large dinosaurs indicate that wings did not initially evolve for flight, and the occurrence of these wing-like structures in only the adult individual suggest that these structures were used later in life, perhaps for purposes like display or courtship," Dr. Zelenitsky said.
Birds are known to have evolved from dinosaurs, and remain the closest living creatures to the creatures from Jurassic Park. The discovery sheds more light on wings, and their role in the evolutionary tree.
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