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On the Ancestry of Feathers in Mesozoic Dinosaurs

Part of the Fascinating Life Sciences book series (FLS)

Abstract

Over the last two decades, the dinosaur fossil record has revealed much about the nature of their epidermal structures. These data challenged long-standing hypotheses of widespread reptile-like scalation in dinosaurs and provided additional evidence that supported the deeply nested position of birds within the clade. Moreover, in recent years, the discovery of filamentous structures in numerous species across the dinosaurian evolutionary tree suggests a model of deep feather homology within dinosaurs, with the appearance of feathers hypothesised to coincide with the dinosaur origin. Thanks to phylogenetic comparative methods, these homologies can now be tested empirically and form the basis of this study. Based on a dataset of 77 dinosaur species that preserve integumentary structures, we undertake a series of model-fitting and ancestral state reconstruction analyses to interpret the evolutionary history and ancestral integumentary condition in dinosaurs. Our results provide the first empirical support for the evolution of feathers in an ordered fashion, but reveal that these evolutionary trends were not always towards ‘more complex’ conditions. Ancestral state reconstructions demonstrate that irrespective of the preferred phylogenetic framework, the ancestral pterosaur condition or whether any one major dinosaur lineage had a Late Triassic-feathered representative, support values for a filamentous/feathered dinosaur ancestor are low. More examples of feathered taxa from across the dinosaur tree, and in particular the discovery of as yet unknown feathered Triassic taxa, will be needed in order to overturn current support for a scaly dinosaurian ancestor.

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Acknowledgements

We thank the editors (C. Foth and O. Rauhut) for inviting us to contribute to this volume, for their insightful comments, and for their patience. We thank P. Bell, R. Benson, R. Butler, M. Davis and M. Young for discussions related to feather evolution and dinosaur skin.

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Correspondence to Nicolás E. Campione .

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12.1 Electronic Supplementary Material

Appendix

Appendix

Character coding data set used in the analyses

Taxon Char1a Char2a Char1b Char2b Char1c Char2c Max Min
Crurotarsi 0 0 0 0 0 0 247.2 0
Pterosauria 0 0 1 1 3 2 212 66
Allosaurus_fragilis 0 0 0 0 0 0 157.3 152.1
Albertosaurus_sarcophagus 0 0 0 0 0 0 72.1 66
Anchiornis_huxleyi 2 1 2 1 2 1 163.5 157.3
Archaeopteryx_lithographica 2 1 2 1 2 1 152.1 145
Auca_Maheuvo_titanosaur 0 0 0 0 0 0 83.6 72.1
Aurornis_xui 2 1 2 1 2 1 163.5 157.3
Barosaurus_lentus 0 0 0 0 0 0 157.3 152.1
Beipiaosaurus_inexpectus 1 1 1 1 1 1 129.4 125
Brachylophosaurus_canadensis 0 0 0 0 0 0 83.6 72.1
Camarasaurus_sp. 0 0 0 0 0 0 157.3 152.1
Carnotaurus_sastrei 0 0 0 0 0 0 83.6 72.1
Caudipteryx_dongi 2 1 2 1 2 1 129.4 125
Caudipteryx_zhoui 2 1 2 1 2 1 129.4 125
Centrosaurus_apertus 0 0 0 0 0 0 83.6 72.1
cf._Stegosaurus_sp. 0 0 0 0 0 0 157.3 152.1
Chasmosaurus_belli 0 0 0 0 0 0 83.6 72.1
Compsognathus_longipes 0 0 0 0 0 0 152.1 145
Concavenator_corcovatus 0 0 0 0 0 0 129.4 125
Confuciusornis_sanctus 2 1 2 1 2 1 129.4 125
Corythosaurus_casuarius 0 0 0 0 0 0 83.6 72.1
Corythosaurus_intermedius 0 0 0 0 0 0 83.6 72.1
Daspletosaurus_torosus 0 0 0 0 0 0 83.6 72.1
Dilong_paradoxus 2 1 2 1 2 1 129.4 125
Diplodocus_sp. 0 0 0 0 0 0 157.3 152.1
Dyoplosaurus_acutosquameus 0 0 0 0 0 0 83.6 72.1
Edmontosaurus_annectens 0 0 0 0 0 0 72.1 66
Edmontosaurus_regalis 0 0 0 0 0 0 83.6 72.1
Eosinopteryx_brevipenna 2 1 2 1 2 1 163.5 157.3
Epidexipteryx_hui 2 1 2 1 2 1 163.5 157.3
Euoplocephalus_tutus 0 0 0 0 0 0 83.6 72.1
Gigantspinosaurus_szechuanensis 0 0 0 0 0 0 163.5 157.3
Gorgosaurus_libratus 0 0 0 0 0 0 83.6 72.1
Gryposaurus_monumentensis 0 0 0 0 0 0 83.6 72.1
Gryposaurus_notabilis 0 0 0 0 0 0 83.6 72.1
Hesperosaurus_mjosi 0 0 0 0 0 0 157.3 152.1
Hypacrosaurus_altispinus 0 0 0 0 0 0 72.1 66
Jinfengopteryx_elegans 2 1 2 1 2 1 129.4 125
Juravenator_starkii 1 1 1 1 1 1 152.1 145
Kulindadromeus_zabaikalicus 2 1 2 1 2 1 169 144
Lambeosaurus_clavinitialis 0 0 0 0 0 0 83.6 72.1
Lambeosaurus_magnicristatus 0 0 0 0 0 0 83.6 72.1
Liaoningosaurus_paradoxus 0 0 0 0 0 0 129.4 125
Magnipaulia_laticaudus 0 0 0 0 0 0 83.6 72.1
Maiasaura_peeblesorum 0 0 0 0 0 0 83.6 72.1
Mamenchisaurus_youngi 0 0 0 0 0 0 163.5 152.1
Mantellisaurus_atherfieldensis 0 0 0 0 0 0 129.4 125
Microraptor_gui 2 1 2 1 2 1 125 113
Microraptor_zhaoianus 2 1 2 1 2 1 125 113
Ornithomimus_edmontonicus 2 1 2 1 2 1 83.6 66
Parasaurolophus_walkeri 0 0 0 0 0 0 83.6 72.1
Pedopenna_daohugouensis 2 1 2 1 2 1 163.5 157.3
Pelorosaurus_becklesii 0 0 0 0 0 0 139.8 132.9
Prosaurolophus_maximus 0 0 0 0 0 0 83.6 72.1
Protarchaeopteryx_robusta 2 1 2 1 2 1 129.4 125
Psittacosaurus_sp. 1 1 1 1 1 1 129.4 125
Rahonavis_ostromi 2 1 2 1 2 1 72.1 66
Saurolophus_angustirostris 0 0 0 0 0 0 72.1 66
Saurolophus_osborni 0 0 0 0 0 0 72.1 66
Scansoriopteryx_heilmanni 2 1 2 1 2 1 163.5 157.3
Scelidosaurus_harrisonii 0 0 0 0 0 0 199.3 190.8
Sciurumimus_albersodoefri 1 1 1 1 1 1 157.3 152.1
Scolosaurus_cutleri 0 0 0 0 0 0 83.6 72.1
Shuvuuia_deserti 1 1 1 1 1 1 83.6 72.1
Similicaudipteryx_yixianensis 2 1 2 1 2 1 129.4 125
Sinocalliopteryx_gigas 1 1 1 1 1 1 129.4 125
Sinornithosaurus_millenii 2 1 2 1 2 1 129.4 125
Sinosauropteryx_prima 1 1 1 1 1 1 129.4 125
Tarbosaurus_bataar 0 0 0 0 0 0 72.1 66
Tarchia_kielanae 0 0 0 0 0 0 72.1 66
Tehuelchesaurus_benitezii 0 0 0 0 0 0 157.3 152.1
Tenontosaurus_sp. 0 0 0 0 0 0 125 113
Tianyulong_confuciusi 1 1 1 1 1 1 163.5 157.3
Triceratops_horridus 0 0 0 0 0 0 72.1 66
Tyrannosaurus_rex 0 0 0 0 0 0 72.1 66
Velociraptor_mongoliensis 2 1 2 1 2 1 83.6 72.1
Xiaotingia_zhengi 1 1 1 1 1 1 163.5 157.3
Yutyrannus_huali 1 1 1 1 1 1 129.4 125
  1. Codings are explained in the text. Char1 refers to a multistate treatment of the filamentous/feathered condition; Char2 lumps all non-scaly conditions into a single state (i.e. binary); a, b, and c represent different assumptions made for ancestral condition in pterosaurs. Maximal and minimal ages are in millions of years

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Campione, N.E., Barrett, P.M., Evans, D.C. (2020). On the Ancestry of Feathers in Mesozoic Dinosaurs. In: Foth, C., Rauhut, O. (eds) The Evolution of Feathers. Fascinating Life Sciences. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-27223-4_12

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