OK, apparently this isn’t exactly breaking news, but…wait a second, what? Dinosaurs had feathers? This changes everything! My whole childhood was a lie!
It turns out that over 30 species of non-avian dinosaurs have been confirmed to have feathers - either based on direct evidence, or other indicators such as quill knobs. For many years, these dinosaurs were all carnivorous theropods (like the Velociraptor!), the ancestors of birds. But the discovery in 2014 (published in Science) of fossilised remains of a new type of herbivorous dinosaur suggests that feathered dinosaurs are more widespread than was previously thought - indeed, all dinosaurs might have had feathers!
Well, at first the thought of feathered dinosaurs seems a tad disappointing. Somehow it makes them seem…fluffier. Cuter. But perhaps we should think along the lines of this XKCD comic: a raptor using its wings for stability, flapping to stay on top of its prey while hanging on with hooked claws, and eating it alive.
Childhood rescued; dinosaurs are cool again.
"Probably that means the common ancestor of all dinosaurs had feathers," says study lead author Pascal Godefroit of the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Science in Brussels. "Feathers are not a characteristic [just] of birds but of all dinosaurs."