Feathers Current Events

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Researchers uncover details behind dinosaur-era birds' feathers
Scientists have recently discovered a new bohaiornithid bird specimen from the Early Cretaceous Period of China with remarkably preserved feathers. Bohaiornithid birds belonged to enantiornithes, a group of avian dinosaurs that lived millions of years ago. (2016-11-14)

Feathers came first, then birds
New research, led by the University of Bristol, suggests that feathers arose 100 million years before birds -- changing how we look at dinosaurs, birds, and pterosaurs, the flying reptiles. (2019-06-03)

Tree resin captures evolution of feathers on dinosaurs and birds
A U Alberta researcher found treasure trove of Cretaceous feathers trapped in tree resin. The resin turned to resilient amber, preserving some 80 million-year-old protofeathers, possibly from non-avian dinosaurs, as well as plumage that is very similar to modern birds, including those that can swim under water. (2011-09-15)

Study shows flight limitations of earliest feathered dinosaurs
Anchiornis, one of the earliest feathered dinosaurs ever discovered, was found to have the ability to fly. However, could it fly like birds today? A new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) by researchers from China and the U.S. says no. (2019-01-28)

Smithsonian scientists use fossil feathers reveal lineage of extinct, flightless ibis
A remarkable first occurred recently at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History when ornithologists Carla Dove and Storrs Olson used 700- to 1,100-year-old feathers from a long extinct species of Hawaiian ibis to help determine the bird's place in the ibis family tree. The feathers are the only known plumage of any of the prehistorically extinct birds that once inhabited the Hawaiian Islands. (2011-11-22)

The color of dinosaur feathers identified
The color of some feathers on dinosaurs and early birds has been identified for the first time, reports a paper published in Nature this week. (2010-01-27)

Feather mites may help clean birds' plumage, study shows
Feather mites help to remove bacteria and fungi from the feathers of birds, according to a new study by University of Alberta biologists. In fact, the relationship between these mites and their hosts could be considered mutualism, with bird feathers collecting food for mites to eat and mites providing the birds with healthier plumage. (2019-03-28)

New evidence of dinosaurs' role in the evolution of bird flight
A new study looking at the structure of feathers in bird-like dinosaurs has shed light on one of nature's most remarkable inventions - how flight might have evolved. (2012-11-21)

Early birds had an old-school version of wings
In comparison to modern birds, the prehistoric Archaeopteryx and bird-like dinosaurs before them had a more primitive version of a wing. The findings, reported on Nov. 21 in Current Biology, a Cell Press publication, lend support to the notion that birds are the descendants of gliding dinosaurs that spent much of their days in the trees. (2012-11-21)

New evidence of dinosaurs' role in the evolution of bird flight
A new study looking at the structure of feathers in bird-like dinosaurs has shed light on one of nature's most remarkable inventions -- how flight might have evolved. (2012-11-21)

The more feathers a male sparrow carries to the nest, the more eggs the female will lay
An international team lead by the University of Granada has found that female sparrows will invest more energy into laying eggs according to the male's ability to fill the nest with feathers which serve to insulate the chicks from the cold and keep them alive. (2013-05-07)

HKU fossil imaging helps push back feather origins by 70 million years
In a new study published in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution, an international team led by Professor Baoyu Jiang of Nanjing University and including Dr Michael Pittman of the Department of Earth Sciences, the University of Hong Kong, shows that pterosaurs had at least four types of feathers in common with their close relatives the dinosaurs, pushing back the origin of feathers by some 70 million years. (2018-12-18)

Scientists 'rebuild' giant moa using ancient DNA
Scientists have performed the first DNA-based reconstruction of the giant extinct moa bird, using prehistoric feathers recovered from caves and rock shelters in New Zealand. (2009-07-02)

Scientists discover how birds and dinosaurs evolved to dazzle with colourful displays
Iridescence is responsible for some of the most striking visual displays in the animal kingdom. Now, thanks to a new study of feathers from almost 100 modern bird species, scientists have gained new insights into how this colour diversity evolved. (2018-12-10)

First evidence of feathered polar dinosaurs found in Australia
A cache of 118 million-year-old fossilized dinosaur and bird feathers has been recovered from an ancient lake deposit that once lay beyond the southern polar circle. (2019-11-12)

'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)

Flying without wings: Losing feathers has a detrimental effect on migrating birds
Birds that molt at the wrong time of the year could be disadvantaged, according to a study by scientists at Lund University, Sweden. Birds depend on a full set of feathers for maximum efficiency when flying long distances, but the study shows that moulting has a detrimental effect on their flight performance. (2015-07-01)

Beauty from the bottom up
Flamingos apply natural make-up to their feathers to stand out and attract mates, according to a new study by Juan Amat, from the Estacion Biologica de Donana in Seville, Spain, and colleagues. Their research is the first to demonstrate that birds transfer the color pigments from the secretions of their uropygial gland (situated near the base of the tail) for cosmetic reasons. The study is published online in Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, a Springer journal. (2010-10-25)

New discovery pushes origin of feathers back by 70 million years
An international team of palaeontologists, which includes the University of Bristol, has discovered that the flying reptiles, pterosaurs, actually had four kinds of feathers, and these are shared with dinosaurs -- pushing back the origin of feathers by some 70 million years. (2018-12-17)

A small vortex on the wing makes the elegance of birds' flight
A recent study shows that the birds use a thumb-like structure on the wing to create a small vortex which makes their turns and landings smooth. (2015-06-04)

Fragmentation linked to stress in birds
Amazon forest birds are particularly sensitive to habitat fragmentation -- even patches as big as 250 acres are missing many species -- but no one knows why. New research offers a clue: birds in fragments have slower-growing feathers. This suggests that they are more stressed, which could decrease survival and reproduction. (2001-05-28)

Peacock tail feathers shake at resonance and hold eyespots still during courtship displays
As male peacocks shake their long feathers in courtship, the iridescent eyespots remain nearly stationary and captivate females, according a study published April 27, 2016, in the open-access journal PLOS ONE. (2016-04-27)

Chinese researchers discover how bird feathers resist tearing
Researchers from the Technical Institute of Physics and Chemistry recently made a deep observation of the 3D fine structures and the entire unzipping process of feathers by using microscopy with a micro/nano manipulating system and 3D X-ray microscopy. They discovered and characterized a sophisticated mechanism in bird feathers that enhances tear resistance, overturning a centuries-old explanation of how bird feathers work. (2018-09-27)

'Rainbow' dinosaur had iridescent feathers like a hummingbird
Scientists discovered a dinosaur fossil with feathers so well-preserved that they were able to see the feathers' microscopic color-bearing structures. By comparing the shapes of those feather structures with the structures in modern bird feathers, they're able to infer that the new dino, Caihong juji ('rainbow with the big crest') had iridescent rainbow feathers like a hummingbird. (2018-01-16)

Bronx Zoo feathers help save rare birds half a world away
To help save two rare bird species living deep in the jungles of Sarawak, Malaysia, the Bronx Zoo-based Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) spent two years collecting donations of a different kind from zoos throughout North America. It wasn't money, but tail feathers shed from captive hornbills. (2002-03-26)

Hummingbirds all a-flutter during courtship
Though famous for their mid-air hovering during hunting, tiny hummingbirds have another trait that is literally telltale: males of some hummingbird species generate loud sounds with their tail feathers while courting females. Now, for the first time, the cause of these sounds has been identified. (2011-09-08)

Fossilized giant penguin feathers reveal color, feather structure of ancient birds
A North Carolina State University researcher is part of a team that has discovered fossilized feathers from a giant penguin that lived near the Equator more than 36 million years ago. These feathery fossils reveal color patterns in an ancient extinct penguin species, and offer clues to how modern penguin feathers evolved. (2010-09-30)

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)

Feathered cousin of 'Jurassic Park' star unearthed in China
A newly identified species of feathered dinosaur is the largest ever discovered to have a well-preserved set of bird-like wings, research suggests. (2015-07-16)

Best evidence yet that dinosaurs used feathers for courtship
A University of Alberta researcher's examination of fossilized dinosaur tail bones has led to a breakthrough finding: some feathered dinosaurs used tail plumage to attract mates, much like modern-day peacocks and turkeys. (2013-01-04)

Canadian researchers discover fossils of first feathered dinosaurs from North America
The new study, led by Canadian researchers, describes the first ornithomimid specimens preserved with feathers, recovered from 75 million-year-old rocks in the badlands of Alberta, Canada. (2012-10-25)

Majority of Anna's hummingbirds may have feather mites on their tail feathers
The majority of Californian Anna's Hummingbirds appear to have P. huitzilopochtlii feather mites on their tail flight feathers, according to a study published Feb. 14, 2018, in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Youki Yamasaki from Washington State University, US, and colleagues. (2018-02-14)

A tool to measure stress hormone in birds -- feathers
Traditionally, researchers have analyzed blood samples to detect corticosterone levels in wild birds. But recently, scientists have shown that corticosterone spikes can also be detected by analyzing bird feathers. (2011-08-16)

Flag has ladies all of a flutter
A new study -- using high speed video and feathers bought on eBay -- shows that when the male snipe sticks out his outer tail feathers, they flutter like flags in the wind, producing a highly seductive drumming sound. The winged Lothario also dives to increase the speed and therefore raise the pitch of the call in a bid to impress the female of the species. (2010-04-28)

New feather findings get scientists in a flap
Scientists from the University of Southampton have revealed that feather shafts are made of a multi-layered fibrous composite material, much like carbon fiber, which allows the feather to bend and twist to cope with the stresses of flight. (2014-10-22)

Feathered dinosaurs were even fluffier than we thought
A University of Bristol-led study has revealed new details about dinosaur feathers and enabled scientists to further refine what is potentially the most accurate depiction of any dinosaur species to date. (2017-11-28)

Cracking feather formation could lead to cooler birds
Scientists have revealed how bird feathers form in a wave-like motion, creating a regular pattern in the skin. The team led by the University of Edinburgh has identified chemical signals that are switched on and off in the birds' skin as feathers are arranged sequentially. (2019-02-21)

Can gulls smell out a good partner?
Male and female kittiwakes smell different from each other, according to research by Sarah Leclaire from the Centre national de la recherche scientifique at the Université Paul Sabatier in France and her team. Their work suggests that the birds' body odors might signal the genetic makeup of individual birds, and could be used in mate choice to assess the genetic compatibility of potential partners. The study is published Springer's journal Naturwissenschaften - The Science of Nature. (2011-07-06)

Molecular analysis of anchiornis feather gives clues to origin of flight
An international team of researchers has performed molecular analysis on fossil feathers from a small, feathered dinosaur from the Jurassic. Their research could aid scientists in pinpointing when feathers evolved the capacity for flight during the dinosaur-bird transition. (2019-01-28)

Bright birds make good mothers
Female blue tits with brightly colored crowns are better mothers than duller birds, according to a new study led by the University of York. (2013-08-13)

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