Sinosauropteryx holds a special place in evolutionary studies, partly because of exquisite preservation and partly because it displays integumental structures (described as proto-feathers by many). Alternative hypotheses about these structures were considered in a previous blog, showing that there is compelling evidence contrary to the protofeather hypothesis. However, it remains to be established what the integumental structures of Sinosauropteryx actually are and how they became fossilised. This is the theme of this blog. The relevant research is again that of Professor Lingham-Soliar from South Africa. He has presented new data allowing two alternative hypotheses to be tested.
“A sound understanding of the externally preserved fossilized tissue of Sinosauropteryx is crucial to resolving the differences in interpretation. If the tissue represents protofeathers, then it should comprise independent, freestanding filaments. Alternatively, if it represents structural fibres (excluding spines and bristles), then it should form part of a more inclusive structure, such as the dermis or a crest or frill.” (p.700)
For more, go here.