January 4, 2013
Dinosaurs attracted mates by shaking tail feathers: Study
By QMI Agency
Peacocks and burlesque dancers aren't the only ones who perform sexy feather dances — a new study suggests dinosaurs did it too.
University of Alberta paleontologist Scott Persons says some species of dinosaurs had tail feathers, but not all of them could fly.
While examining fossils, Persons found the vertebrae in the tails of four dinosaur species were fused together in a blade-like structure at the tip.
"The structure is called a pygostyle," Persons said in a press release. "Among modern animals, only birds have them."
Similicaudiptery, an early oviraptor, had feathers radiating from the structure. Unlike other feathered dinosaurs, Similicaudiptery didn't fly.
Persons hypothesizes they flapped their tail feathers to lure mates — just like modern-day peacocks and turkeys. And he believes the oviraptors that followed did the same, also using the bone crests on their heads to attract mates.
"Between the crested head and feathered tail-shaking, oviraptors had a propensity for visual exhibitionism," Persons said.