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Casuarius, the featherless bird

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By Osmatar   |   Watch
Published: June 10, 2017
© 2017 - 2020 Osmatar
New skin impressions show the skin of the strange Anthropocene bird Casuarius was a mix of featherless and scaly.

A recently published study looked at all the known skin impressions from the fossils of Casuarius and its close relatives Dromaeus and Struthio to figure out if they had feathers. Previously it was known that Casuarius had featherless wattles on its neck and strange quills thought to be primitive or modified primary feathers on its arms, but there was wide debate on whether the rest of the bird was feathered. Two new skin impressions showing featherless wrinkled skin on the neck and scales on the foot, together from similar patches of featherless and scaly skin on Struthio and a mummified Dromaius lower leg showing scales and scutes, have given researchers the confidence to state that Casuarius together with its relatives were most probably featherless.

The loss of feathers seems to have coincided with evolving giant (for a terrestrial bird) size and be an adaptation for the sweltering heat of the Anthropocene tropics. For such a large animal with a high metabolism the feathers could have been more of a liability, trapping too much of the heat produced by the body of the large avian. To protect the skin on the legs and possibly the whole underside of the animal Casuarius developed hardy scales and scutes. The team adds that it's still possible that some feathers were retained on its back, probably as ornamental vestiges like the quills on the arm. In any case most of the animal's skin was completely naked and possibly brightly coloured.

This is of course a tongue-in-cheek response to all the news articles prematurely declaring Tyrannosaurus rex fully scaly based on the Bell et al. (2017) paper on tyrannosaur integument. I'm not saying it's impossible that tyrannosaurids were predominantly scaly, but it's worth remembering the lesson of the humble Juravenator.
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anonymous's avatar
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dylan613's avatar
dylan613Hobbyist Artist
Hi. Do you accept requests? I would love to see an outdated walrus based from this skeleton www.brosterman.com/other_art_p… and have it Jurassic Parkified. :D (Big Grin)
shmleep's avatar
shmleepHobbyist Traditional Artist
it's rather funny considering Saurian's most recent T. rex design
Pippin351's avatar
So nobody has seen Pavo skeletons from the dig in “India” birds had elegant plumes!
Pristichampsus's avatar
PristichampsusProfessional General Artist
Birds are less scary with feathers!!! Stop ruining my childhood!!! ;)
Pippin351's avatar
Well somebody has definitely watched a little bit too much Holocene Park. Birds had plumes, and as far as I've heard, I'm pretty sure humans had hair.
. Still a good movie though.
ButILikeTauNeutrino's avatar
This is some top-tier satire right here.
RaptorWings's avatar
RaptorWingsStudent General Artist
eh new information came out that shows Casuarius had spikey quills 8 inches long protruding from its sides!
caitlincats's avatar
caitlincatsHobbyist General Artist
This seems weird but can i use this as my discord icon if i credit you in my notes?
VanishingSilence's avatar
VanishingSilenceHobbyist Digital Artist
Still not as scary as the real thing!
Batterymaster's avatar
BatterymasterStudent General Artist
Don't forget that it was ectothermic and shit! ;)
sirhedgenald's avatar
sirhedgenaldHobbyist Digital Artist
Casuarius are pretty dangerous 
Wasichuwitko's avatar
The face says, 'I have seen myself in the mirror. I am now cranky forever.'
WorkowatyWilczek's avatar
Beautifull draw, if cassowaries were look like that, world will be much cooler place!
MoaKing's avatar
Is this a joke post?
Osmatar's avatar
OsmatarProfessional General Artist
I'll let Wikipedia answer this for you.
Dennonyx's avatar
Dennonyx Traditional Artist
Not just Juravenator.

Remember Kulindadromeus, guys...
Osmatar's avatar
OsmatarProfessional General Artist
Kulindadromeus was never mistaken for a filamentless animal. We also still don't know how relevant ornithischian filaments are for theropods. I doubt anyone reasonable disputes the homology of coelurosaurian protofeathers anymore.
Pristichampsus's avatar
PristichampsusProfessional General Artist
And yet, someone has done that already in the comments, about Yutyrannus no less.
Dennonyx's avatar
Dennonyx Traditional Artist
I mentioned Kulindadromeus because it shows both scales and protofeathers impressions (like Juravenator) so we can learn from this observation even if ornithischians filaments may have evolved indipendently.
Atlantis536's avatar
Atlantis536Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I'm heard that Phoenicopterus and Phoenicoparrus were almost definitely featherless.
damouraptor's avatar
damouraptorStudent Digital Artist
I hear they walked in an upright human-like posture as well
Osmatar's avatar
OsmatarProfessional General Artist
Oh, definitely! With vertical femurs. That's how bird anatomy is supposed to work.
Pristichampsus's avatar
PristichampsusProfessional General Artist
That is some next level Paleo-ornithology satire right there, Gastornis level even.
PlagueFatherNurgle's avatar
Heresy! We all know they had a sharp keratin horn for ramming prey, along with a much thicker neck hump for storing fat.
anonymous's avatar
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