Dinosaurs with feathers probably didn’t use them to fly over the prehistoric world, researchers now believe.
Canadian scientists reported last month that ostrich-like dinosaurs used their feathers to protect their young or to attract other dinosaurs.
In searching through 75-million-year-old rocks in western Canada, researchers found evidence of feathers on one young and two adult fossils. The ostrich-like dinosaurs are called ornithomimids (that’s pronounced or-nith-o-mim-ids).
For a long time, researchers thought ornithomimids were hairless birds that ran quickly across the land. (If you’ve seen the movie “Jurassic Park,” you’ve seen ornithomimids). But the discovery of the feathers has changed scientists’ thinking.
“The discovery, the first to establish the existence of feathers in ornithomimids, suggests that all ostrich-like dinosaurs had feathers,” according to a statement from the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Canada.
The dinosaurs probably had soft, down-like feathers throughout their lives. As they aged, more bird-like feathers probably developed on their arms, which would look like wings to us.
But the dinosaurs would have been too large to fly, so the feathers might have been used to attract a mate or to protect eggs during hatching.
The fossils were discovered in sandstone and were the first feathered dinosaurs found in North America, according to the museum. Previously, feathered dinosaur skeletons have been recovered almost exclusively in China and Germany.