Current Feathers News and Events

Current Feathers News and Events, Feathers News Articles.
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Higher elevation birds sport thicker down "jackets" to survive the cold
A new study examines feathers across 249 species of Himalayan songbirds, finding that birds at higher elevations have more of fluffy down than lower elevation birds. Finding such a clear pattern across many species underscores how important feathers are to birds' ability to adapt to their environments. Furthermore, finding that birds from colder environments tend to have more down may one day help predict which birds are vulnerable to climate change simply by studying feathers. (2021-02-15)

Fossil pigments shed new light on vertebrate evolution
This new paper shows that melanin is more than just something that gives colour to the body. It played an important role in the evolution of warm-blooded animals and helped defined what birds and mammals look like today. By studying where melanin occurs in the body in fossils and modern animals researchers have produced the first model for how melanin has evolved over the last 500 million years. (2021-02-04)

Keeping up appearances: male fairy-wrens show looks can be deceiving
A new study examines whether conspicuous colours of superb fairy-wrens signal male quality. (2020-12-22)

Creating a ground plan for stonefly evolution
A team led by the University of Tsukuba microscopically examined the eggs of stoneflies to identify ground plan features and shed light on the evolutionary history of the order. By identifying ancestral and derived features, the researchers reconstructed the evolution of egg structures, and confirmed that establishing an embryonic ground plan can provide unique insights into the evolution of the group. (2020-12-15)

Archaeopteryx fossil provides insights into the origins of flight
Moulting is thought to be unorganised in the first feathered dinosaurs because they had yet to evolve flight, so determining how moulting evolved can lead to better understanding of flight origins. Recently an international research discovered that the earliest record of feather moulting from the famous early fossil bird Archaeopteryx found in southern Germany in rocks that used to be tropical lagoons ~150 million years ago. The findings were published in Communications Biology. (2020-12-09)

Warbler coloration shaped by evolution via distinct paths
Two genes that are important for the diverse colors and patterns of warbler plumage have evolved through two very different processes, according to a new study led by Penn State researchers. These evolutionary processes could help explain the rapid evolution of these songbirds into so many unique species. (2020-11-30)

Ancient blanket made with 11,500 turkey feathers
New WSU research sheds light on the production of an 800-year-old turkey feather blanket and explores the economic and cultural aspects of raising turkeys to supply feathers in the ancient Southwest. (2020-11-25)

Can animals use iridescent colours to communicate?
New paper sheds light on the colourful world of animal communication, highlighting the challenges of studying accurately how iridescent colours work in nature (2020-11-19)

Palaeontologists describe a unique preservation process analyzing remains found in amber
A team of palaeontologists described two amber pieces found in sites in Teruel (Spain) with remains from vertebrates corresponding to the Early Cretaceous. Both pieces have their origins in the same conservation process of resins, described for the first time by the researchers. One of these remains corresponds to the finding of the oldest mammalian hair in amber worldwide, and the remains found in the other piece correspond to dinosaur feathers. (2020-11-19)

Small finlets on owl feathers point the way to less aircraft noise
Collaboration between City, University of London and RWTH Aachen University researchers reveals how these micro-structures enable silent flight. (2020-11-18)

Migration and molt affect how birds change their colors
Before their big journey, many birds molt their bright feathers, replacing them with a more subdued palette. Watching this molt led scientists to wonder how feather color changes relate to the migrations many birds undertake twice each year. (2020-11-06)

Raptor-inspired drone with morphing wing and tail
EPFL engineers have developed a drone with a feathered wing and tail that give it unprecedented flight agility. (2020-10-28)

Study reveals bat-winged dinosaurs had short-lived gliding abilities
Research Assistant Professor Dr Michael PITTMAN (Vertebrate Palaeontology Laboratory, Division of Earth and Planetary Science & Department of Earth Sciences) at The University of Hong Kong (HKU), recently showed that powered flight potential evolved at least three times and that many ancestors of close bird relatives neared the thresholds of powered flight potential, suggesting broad experimentation with wing-assisted locomotion before flight evolved. (2020-10-23)

World's greatest mass extinction triggered switch to warm-bloodedness
Mammals and birds today are warm-blooded, and this is often taken as the reason for their great success. (2020-10-16)

Now you see it, now you don't: Hidden colors discovered by coincidence
Scientists in Australia have stumbled across an unusual way to observe colour that had previously gone unnoticed. An example of a process called scattering, the effect occurs in some materials when light interference combines with strong electric fields. The findings, which have been published in the journal Advanced Optical Materials, have expanded our understanding of the behaviour and properties of light, and could also have practical applications in sensing technology and security devices. (2020-10-14)

Wearable IT devices: Dyeing process gives textiles electronic properties
Whether in fitness, medicine or in the entertainment industry, IT devices worn on the body, such as smart watches, are becoming increasingly popular. Such wearables benefit from the input device fitting as naturally as possible to the body - for example as electro-sensitive fabrics, so-called e-textiles. (2020-10-13)

Dinosaur feather study debunked
A new study published in ''Scientific Reports'' provides substantial evidence that the first fossil feather ever to be discovered does belong to the iconic bird-like dinosaur, Archaeopteryx. This debunks a recent theory that the fossil feather originated from a different species. (2020-09-30)

Naked prehistoric monsters! Evidence that prehistoric flying reptiles probably had
Pterosaur expert Dr David Unwin from the University of Leicester's Centre for Palaeobiology Research, and Professor Dave Martill, of the University of Portsmouth have examined the evidence that these creatures had feathers and believe they were in fact bald (2020-09-28)

Ancient Adélie penguin colony revealed by snowmelt at Cape Irizar, Ross Sea, Antarctica
Researcher Steven Emslie encountered a puzzle at Cape Irizar, a rocky cape located just south of the Drygalski Ice Tongue on the Scott Coast, Ross Sea. He found both ancient and what appeared to be fresh remains of Adelie penguins, mostly of chicks, which frequently die and accumulate at these colonies. However, the ''fresh'' remains were puzzling, he says, because there are no records of an active penguin colony at this site. (2020-09-28)

These birds communicate by fluttering their feathers -- and they have different accents
Fork-tailed Flycatchers, scientists just discovered, communicate with the sounds made when they flutter their feathers. And by analyzing recordings of the birds in flight, the researchers found that subspecies with different migration patterns have different ''dialects'' to their feather sounds, possibly helping contribute to them splitting into separate species. (2020-09-22)

Bird beak revealed by HKU-codeveloped laser imaging informs early beak function and development
Confuciusornis was a crow-like fossil bird that lived in the Cretaceous ~120 million years ago. It was one of the first birds to evolve a beak (Fig. 1). Early beak evolution remains understudied. Using an imaging technique called Laser-Stimulated Fluorescence, researchers at the University of Hong Kong (HKU) address this by revealing just how different the beak and jaw of Confuciusornis were compared to birds we see today. (2020-09-21)

Computational modelling explains why blues and greens are brightest colous in nature
Researchers have shown why intense, pure red colours in nature are mainly produced by pigments, instead of the structural colour that produces bright blue and green hues. (2020-09-11)

Landmark HKU-led volume on past progress and new frontiers in the study of early birds and their close relatives
A wealth of spectacular fossils has demonstrated that birds are theropod dinosaurs, with Pennaraptora being the most relevant subgroup to transition from non-avian dinosaurs to birds. Here we announce the publication of a landmark journal volume on pennaraptoran theropods edited by HKU Research Assistant Professor Dr. Michael Pittman and Prof. Xing Xu of the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology and the Chinese Academy of Sciences Center for Excellence in Life and Paleoenvironment. (2020-08-24)

How boundaries become bridges in evolution
The mechanisms that make organisms locally fit and those responsible for change are distinct and occur sequentially in evolution. (2020-08-10)

Most close relatives of birds neared the potential for powered flight but few crossed its thresholds
An international study led by HKU Research Assistant Professor Dr. Michael Pittman produced an updated evolutionary tree of early birds and their closest relatives to reconstruct powered flight potential, showing it evolved at least three times. Many ancestors of the closest bird relatives neared the thresholds of powered flight potential, suggesting broad experimentation with wing-assisted locomotion before flight evolved. The findings were published in the journal Current Biology. (2020-08-10)

Metallic blue fruits use fat to produce color and signal a treat for birds
Researchers have found that a common plant owes the dazzling blue colour of its fruit to fat in its cellular structure, the first time this type of colour production has been observed in nature. (2020-08-06)

Scientists prove bird ovary tissue can be preserved in fossils
A research team led by Dr. Alida Bailleul from the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology (IVPP) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences has proved that remnants of bird ovaries can be preserved in the fossil record. (2020-07-28)

Parasite infestations revealed by tiny chicken backpacks
Blood-feeding livestock mites can be detected with wearable sensor technology nicknamed ''Fitbits for chickens.'' To help farmers detect mite infestations, a team of entomologists, computer scientists, and biologists led by UC Riverside entomologist Amy Murillo has created a new insect detection system. (2020-07-13)

Armor on butterfly wings protects against heavy rain
An analysis of high-speed raindrops hitting biological surfaces such as feathers, plant leaves and insect wings reveals how these highly water-repelling veneers reduce the water's impact. (2020-06-09)

Pinker flamingos more aggressive
Bright pink flamingos are more aggressive than paler rivals when fighting over food, new research shows. (2020-06-07)

Pretty as a peacock: The gemstone for the next generation of smart sensors
Scientists have taken inspiration from the biomimicry of butterfly wings and peacock feathers to develop an innovative opal-like material that could be the cornerstone of next generation smart sensors. (2020-05-19)

Microscopic feather features reveal fossil birds' colors and explain why cassowaries shine
Some birds are iridescent because of the physical make-up of their feathers, but scientists had never found evidence of this structural color in the group of birds containing ostriches and cassowaries -- until now. Researchers have discovered both what gives cassowary feathers their glossy black shine and what the feathers of birds that lived 52 million years ago looked like. (2020-05-13)

Birds take flight with help from Sonic hedgehog
Flight feathers are amazing evolutionary innovations that allowed birds to conquer the sky. A study led by Matthew Towers (University of Sheffield) and Marian Ros (University of Cantabria) and published in Development now reveals that flight feather identity is established thanks to Sonic hedgehog -- a signalling molecule well-known for giving the digits of the limb their different identities. These findings suggest the pre-existing digit identity mechanism was co-opted during the evolution of flight feathers. (2020-05-06)

New feathered dinosaur was one of the last surviving raptors
Dineobellator notohesperus lived 67 million years ago. Steven Jasinski, who recently earned his doctorate from the School of Arts and Sciences working with Peter Dodson, also of the School of Veterinary Medicine, described the find. (2020-03-26)

Is intensive agriculture reducing mourning dove reproduction in the eastern US?
Populations of some common bird species, including the familiar mourning dove, have been on the decline in North America. Agricultural lands can support bird populations, but agricultural intensification can also cause populations to decline -- so what role are changes in American agriculture playing for mourning doves? New research shows that relatively small changes in agricultural land use may be related to big changes in how many young doves are produced. (2020-03-11)

Stanford scientists discover the mathematical rules underpinning brain growth
'How do cells with complementary functions arrange themselves to construct a functioning tissue?' said study co-author Bo Wang, an assistant professor of Bioengineering. 'We chose to answer that question by studying a brain because it had been commonly assumed that the brain was too complex to have a simple patterning rule. We surprised ourselves when we discovered there was, in fact, such a rule.' (2020-03-11)

'PigeonBot's' feather-level insights push flying bots closer to mimicking birds
Birds fly in a meticulous manner not yet replicable by human-made machines, though two new studies in Science Robotics and Science -- by uncovering more about what gives birds this unparalleled control -- pave the way to flying robots that can maneuver the air as nimbly as birds. (2020-01-16)

New dinosaur discovered in China shows dinosaurs grew up differently from birds
A new species of feathered dinosaur has been discovered in China, and described by American and Chinese authors in The Anatomical Record. The one-of-a-kind specimen preserves feathers and bones that provide new information about how dinosaurs grew and how they differed from birds. (2020-01-15)

Hummingbirds' rainbow colors come from pancake-shaped structures in their feathers
Hummingbirds are some of the most brightly-colored things in the entire world. Their iridescent feathers reflect light in a way that other birds can't match, and scientists weren't sure what made hummingbirds special. But a new study in Evolution shows that while hummingbird feathers have the same basic makeup as other birds', the special shape of their pigment-containing structures enables them to reflect a rainbow of light. (2020-01-10)

The mysterious case of the ornamented coot chicks has a surprising explanation
The American coot is a somewhat drab water bird with gray and black feathers and a white beak, common in wetlands throughout North America. Coot chicks, however, sport outrageously bright orange and red feathers, skin, and beaks. A new study explains how the bright coloring of coot chicks fits in with the reproductive strategy of their less colorful parents. (2019-12-30)

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