Some non-avian feathered dinos may have been flightless birds

January 10th, 2010 - 12:08 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, January 10 (ANI): A new research by scientists has claimed that some non-avian feathered dinosaurs may have been flightless birds, the equivalent of today’s ostriches and emus.

So called “non-avian theropod” dinosaurs from the Cretaceous period had feathers, nests, laid eggs and roosted like birds, but are not referred to as birds.

The group includes what are now called troodontids and oviraptorids.

According to a report in Discovery News, these “dinosaurs” could very well have been birds.

UC (University of California) Berkeley’s J. Lee Kavanau, the author of the paper, said that there is ample evidence supporting that troodontids and oviraptorids were secondary flightless birds.

These birds, like today’s ostriches and emus, lost their ability to fly, but retained their feathers.

“This evidence ranges from bird-like bodies and bone designs, adapted for climbing, perching, gliding, and ultimately flight, to relatively large, highly developed brains, poor sense of smell, and their feeding habits,” said Kavanau.

“Because ratites also are secondarily flightless and tinamous are reluctant, clumsy fliers, the new evidence strengthens the view that troodontids and oviraptorids were secondarily flightless,” he added.

He also pointed out that “secondary flightlessness apparently favors paternal care of clutches of large, abundant eggs.”

That’s been observed for both the “non-avian theropods” and today’s flightless birds.

A single ostrich egg, for example, can weigh around 3 pounds and is equivalent to about 24 chicken eggs.

Fossilized eggs aren’t that uncommon, so studies on them, along with evidence on how they were cared for by their parents, could provide clues as to when the first actual birds emerged.

It’s interesting to me that troodontids and oviraptorids exhibited relatively sophisticated parenting, with males helping out.

It’s thought that the earliest eggs from bird or bird-like animals enjoyed only maternal care, with the co-parenting emerging later.

Birds and avian precursors could therefore have been around much earlier than presently believed. (ANI)

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