Lifestyle & Belief

What do dinosaurs have in common with penguins and peacocks? New discovery tells all


Dinosaurs of the show 'Dinosaurier - Im Reich Der Giganten' perform during the Wetten dass show at the Messe Freiburg on October 3, 2009 in Freiburg, Germany.


Miguel Villagran

What do dinosaurs have in common with penguins and peacocks? Wings, confirmed the recent discovery of three once-feathered Orthomimosaurs in Canada, according to The Guardian

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And like penguins, Ornithomimosaurs are not believed to have used theirs to, well, soar.

Instead, scientists believed they developed the plumage as a mating move -- setting an example followed to the extreme by the enthusiastically feathered and flirtatious peacocks. 

Paleontologists discovered three new Ornithomimosaur specimens in Canada's Alberta riverbeds, marking the first such find with feathers since the species was identified over a century ago, reported The Guardian

“The presence of 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 suggests that these structures were used later in life, perhaps for purposes like display or courtship,” The Telegraph cited the University of Calgary's Darla Zelenitsky as saying, going on to exclaim: 

"What? Where is the 'perhaps’ in this, assistant professor Zelenitsky? Why else did this individual grow from being a perfectly respectable young dinosaur into a plumed wonder, its scaly proto-feathers miraculously offset by a pair of shimmering wings, if not because other individual Ornithomimosaurs considered them quite the thing?"

That or they needed a little extra something-something, what with all that Darwinian competition going on. After all, they "looked a bit like modern-day ostriches," according to BBC, with a "toothless beak, large eyes and long legs" and a "long, thick tail."

It's unclear how many girl dinos dug the stringy Ostrich look -- especially with muscular Tyrannosaurus Rex strutting around the neighborhood, per The Guardian

"Ornithomimus comes from fossil beds that have also produced Tyrannosaurus rex material. It really may be that if old rexy did have feathers, we could find a specimen showing that, something previously considered unlikely to impossible in those deposits. These new finds are important in their own right, but also reveal what else we may yet learn."

The three Ornithomimosaur specimens found, two adults and one juvenile, had feathery indentations on their bones and left feathery marks in the fossilized rocks surrounding them, said BBC, adding that the word "ornithomimid" derives from the Latin for "bird mimics."

The find has excited the scientific community because previous Ornithomimosaur finds, all of which were sans feathers, were in China and Germany, suggesting that Canada may be ripe terrain for more fossilized feathers, said the Guardian.