Sunday, March 11, 2012

How does a four-winged reptile impress the ladies?

Microraptor had raven-like plumage

Microraptor was one of the all-time strangest creatures - a reptile sporting four wings, yet unable to fly. Now scientists studying superbly preserved examples from China say they can determine it had iridescent black plumage like a crow or raven. 
If you can't fly, what's the point of snazzy-looking feathers?  Best guess: they were for showing off to the opposite sex.  Biologist Matthew Shawke puts it this way: “Iridescence is widespread in modern birds, and is frequently used in displays. Our evidence that Microraptor was largely iridescent thus suggests that feathers were important for display even relatively early in their evolution."

Now if only we could clone one...

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