Feathers are one of the most unique characteristics of modern birds and represent the most complex and colourful type of skin derivate within vertebrates, while also fulfilling various biological roles, including flight, thermal insulation, display, and sensory function. For years it was generally assumed that the origin of flight was the main driving force for the evolution of feathers. However, various discoveries of dinosaur species with filamentous body coverings, made over the past 20 years, have fundamentally challenged this idea and produced new evolutionary scenarios for the origin of feathers.
The Evolution of Feathers is devoted to the origin and evolution of feathers, and highlights the impact of palaeontology on this research field by reviewing a number of spectacular fossil discoveries that document the increasing morphological complexity along the evolutionary path to modern birds. Also featuring chapters on fossil feather colours, feather development and its genetic control, The Evolution of Feathers offers a timely and comprehensive overview of this popular research topic.
1. Introduction to the morphology, development, and ecology of feathers
2. Molecular and cellular mechanisms of feather development provide a basis for diverse evolution of feather forms
3. The origin of birds: current consensus, controversy, and the occurrence of feathers
4. Integumentary structures in Kulindadromeus zabaikalicus, a basal neornithischian dinosaur from the Jurassic of Siberia
5. Filamentous integuments in non-avialan theropods and their kin: advances and future perspectives for understanding the evolution of feathers
6. 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
7. Feather evolution in Pennaraptora
8. The feathers of the Jurassic Urvogel Archaeopteryx
9. The plumage of basal birds
10. A morphological review of the enigmatic elongated tail feathers of stem birds
11. Review on color patterns of fossil feathers
12. On the ancestry of feathers in Mesozoic dinosaurs
Christian Foth, Dipl. Biol., Dr. rer. nat., is a palaeobiologist, who studied biology at the University of Rostock and gained his doctoral degree in palaeontology from the Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich for studying the skull shape evolution of archosaurian reptiles. His research focusses on the evolution of archosaurs and the origin of birds. He currently works as a senior assistant at the Department of Geosciences of the University of Fribourg.
Oliver W. M. Rauhut, Dipl. Geol., PhD, Dr. habil, apl. Prof., is a vertebrate palaeontologist who studied geology and palaeontology at the Free University of Berlin, and gained his PhD from the University of Bristol on the phylogenetic relationships of theropod dinosaurs. He is an expert in the evolution of dinosaurs and other extinct reptiles and works currently as Curator for Lower Vertebrates at the Bavarian State Collection for Palaeontology and Geology and adjunct Professor for Palaeontology at the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences of Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich.