'New fossil shows Archaeopteryx sported feathered trousers'
Image credit: Nature - Christian Foth, Helmut Tischlinger & Oliver W. M. Rauhut; Via Phys.org
Humans might have worn trousers as far back as 4000 years ago, but Archaeopteryx was wearing feathery trousers 150 million years ago!
This bolsters the current scientific perception that feathers were evolved for display, before becoming viable for gliding/flight, as such leg trousers would have served only a sexual function.
At ~4 centimetres long, and being symmetrical, they would not have worked well for catching air, but could easily have been lined with pigment, as with modern birds, for display.
Image 1: a, Right wing from dorsal view. b, Leg feathers of the right hindlimb. c, Detail of leg feathers of right hindlimb. d, Detail of body plumage from the belly region. e, Overview of tail feathers. f, Detail of asymmetrical feathers at the lateral side of the tail. Arrow in a indicates gap in the wing caused by the overlapping left foot. Scale bars, 1 cm.
Image 2: bp, body plumage; ft, feather ‘trousers’; hf, hackle feathers; lh, left hindlimb; n, neck; rf, right forelimb; rh, right hindlimb; rw, right wing; s, skull remains; t, tail; tf, tail feathers. Scale bar, 5 cm.
Image 3: a, Overview photograph of the 11th skeletal specimen of Archaeopteryx. Scale bar, 5 cm. b, Presacral vertebral column. Scale bar, 2 cm. c, Right forelimb. Scale bar, 5 cm.
Image 4: a, Primary wing feathers under ultraviolet light. b, First and second primary and first secondary wing feathers under ultraviolet light. c, Close up of the primary feathers showing the rhachides and the barbs. d, Close up of the metatarsal feathers. Scale bar, 1 cm.
Image 5: yellow, body feathers from different body regions, which cannot be assigned to a certain body region; light blue, heckle feathers; sky blue, body feathers; dark blue, tibial feathers; red, femoral feathers; black, metatarsal feathers; light green, rectrices; green, remiges. Scale bar, 5 cm.