When I had baby zebra finches, which I totally love to this day, and when they first came out of the nest box and begged the parents for food, I could clearly see in the head shaking and leaning forward posture their ancestors, the dinosaurs. Even now, looking at the feet of any of my birds, I see the connection. So how did feathers suddenly spring up on reptiles? Huge, meat-eating, not very smart reptiles.
Here’s Part 1 of a 5 part video on the evolution of feathers. I love animation like this! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L6kViYeDcmA
This awesome article (http://people.eku.edu/ritchisong/feather_evolution.htm) explains a lot of it, especially indicators that feathers came about for thermoregulation long before their use for flight. Don’t miss the great little video showing the development of a single-filament feather. Did I mention that the dinosaurs who became birds were venomous?
This site includes the theory that feathers which developed before flight not only kept the dinosaur warm, or cool, but when puffed up for a display, was considered pleasing to the opposite sex. http://dinosaurs.about.com/od/thedinobirdconnection/a/originflight.htm
Dinosaurs had nests long before birds came along, so maybe protecting and insulating the eggs and young was another early use for feathers. http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/print/2011/02/feathers/zimmer-text
And how did this all end up in our favorite companions? Well, here’s an amazing animation of a bird skeleton. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HMba0KByEPY It’s very clear why we check the breast bone, or keel, to tell if a bird in healthy.
So, maybe I should be less willing to let an Amazon parrot chew on my fingers! Lucky for me, he’s very gentle. And that’s a mid-week post on my favorite companions, dinosaurs!