Book chapter

Two of a Feather: A Comparison of the Preserved Integument in the Juvenile Theropod Dinosaurs Sciurumimus and Juravenator from the Kimmeridgian Torleite Formation of Southern Germany


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  • 2020
Published in:
  • The Evolution of Feathers. - Springer International Publishing. - 2020, p. 79-101
English The discoveries of numerous theropod dinosaurs with filamentous integumentary structures in various stages of morphological complexity from the Upper Jurassic and Lower Cretaceous of China provided striking evidences that birds represent modern predatory dinosaurs, and that feathers were originally filamentous. In the shadow of these impressive discoveries two early juvenile theropod dinosaurs from the Upper Jurassic limestones of Bavaria (Germany), Juravenator
starki and Sciurumimus albersdoerferi, were described. Both are preserved with phosphatized soft tissues, including skin and feathers. In the current study the integumentary structures of both theropods are investigated and revised with help of auto-fluorescence methods, using two different excitation wavelengths (UVA and cyan). Both theropods possessed monofilamentous feathers and scale-less skin. In J. starki short feathers could only be traced in the tail region. The tubercle-like
structures, originally described as scales, found in the anterior tail region of J. starki, show no autofluorescence signal and were reinterpreted as remains of adipocere, maybe indicating the presence of a fat body. S. albersdoerferi was probably entirely plumaged, possessing a filamentous crest on the dorsal edge in the anterior tail section. This current example emphasizes the importance of
taphonomic reviews for the interpretation of integumentary structures. Furthermore, the new data give new insights into the early evolution of feathers. However, the placement of J. starki in multiple phylogenetic positions as well as differences in the morphological interpretation of
filamentous feathers found in basal coelurosaurs produce contrasting reconstructions of character evolution that will need to be resolved in due course if greater clarity is to be obtained in this area.
Faculté des sciences et de médecine
Département de Géosciences
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