Project 3403: M. Kundrát, T. H. Rich, J. Lindgren, P. Sjövall, P. Vickers-Rich, L. M. Chiappe, B. P. Kear. 2020. A polar dinosaur feather assemblage from Australia. Gondwana Research. 80:1-11.
Specimen: † Aves indet. (NMV/P:26059B)
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Exceptionally preserved Mesozoic feathered dinosaur fossils (including birds) are famous, but recognized from only very few localities worldwide, and are especially rare in the Southern Hemisphere. Here we report an assemblage of non-avian and avian dinosaur feathers from an Early Cretaceous polar (over 70 degrees S) environment in what is now southeastern Australia. The recovered remains incorporate small (10–30 mm long) basal paravian-like tufted body feathers, open-vaned contour feathers, and asymmetrical bird-like wing feathers that possess high-angled barbs with possible remnants of barbicels — amongst the geologically oldest observed to date. Such morphological diversity augments scant skeletal evidence for a range of insulated non-avian theropods and birds inhabiting extreme southern high-latitude settings during the Mesozoic. Although some of these fossil feathers exhibit what may be residual patterning, most are uniformly toned and preserve rod-shaped microbodies, as well as densely-packed microbody imprints on the barbules that are structurally consistent with eumelanosomes. Geochemical analysis detected no identifiable residual biomolecules, which we suspect were lost via hydrolysis and oxidization during diagenesis and/or weathering. Nevertheless, an originally dark pigmentation can be reasonably inferred from these melanic traces, which in life might have facilitated crypsis, visual communication and thermoregulation in a cold polar habitat.

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Article DOI: 10.1016/

Project DOI: 10.7934/P3403,
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MorphoBank Project 3403

    Authors' Institutions

    • Lund University

    • Monash University

    • University of Pavol Jozef Šafárik

    • Uppsala University

    • Museums Victoria

    • Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County

    • RISE Research Institutes of Sweden

    • Swinburne University of Technology


    member name taxa specimens media
    Benjamin Kear
    Project Administrator
    Martin Kundrat
    Full membership
    Thomas Rich
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    Pat Vickers-Rich
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