The oldest known feathers from the Late Jurassic are already modern in form and microscopic detail. Because these oldest examples are assignable to an extinct branch (Sauriurae) of the basal avian dichotomy, their features must have been established at a significantly earlier date. The skin of a wide variety of dinosaurs is now known and is unlikely to represent a predecessor to a feather bearing integument. Examples of feathered dinosaurs result from erroneous identification of internal structures as part of the skin covering, and from the confusion of flightless birds from the Early Cretaceous of China with dinosaurs.
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Vol. 40 • No. 4