Sunday, April 7, 2019

Feathers of Anchiornis: Origin of flight

Researchers from Nanjing Institute of Geology and Paleontology, North Carolina State University, and the University of South Carolina analyzed Anchiornis—small, feathered dinosaur—to compare their molecular biology with earlier birds and modern birds. Birds today contain a beta-keratin that can also be found in skin, claws, and beaks of reptiles and birds. What differs from the other beta-keratin present in other animals is the flexibility the feathers have. During the evolution of feathers, for some reason one of the beta-keratin had deleted itself which then resulted to the protein becoming smaller. This led to the requirement of flight. In this research, it was founded that the Anchiornis feathers contained both beta-keratin and alpha-keratin proteins. This is a surprising feat since in birds today there is only small percentage in which the alpha-keratin is found.

Looking at different data from fossils, I think it is interesting to see how we could use fossil data to place approximate dates on genetic events that happened in many organisms that led to the evolution in today’s time. In this research, it gave us an approximation on where, when, and even on what animal the transition of dinosaurs and birds came to be.

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