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27 November 2013 12:59 pm ,
Vol. 342 ,
Science has exposed a thriving academic black market in China involving shady agencies, corrupt scientists, and...
Paper-selling agencies flourish in the aura of reputable businesses. For some scientists, it may be difficult to tell...
The new head of the National Center for Science Education promises to "fight the good fight" against attacks on...
Analyses of the H7N9 strains isolated from four new cases show that the virus is evolving rapidly, heightening anxiety...
In 2009, Jack Szostak shared a Nobel Prize for his part in discovering the role of telomeres, the end bits of...
Featuring the first lunar rover in 40 years, Chang'e-3 is seen as an important milestone on China's quest to send a...
Data collected by satellites and floating probes have chronicled a 2-decade rise in the temperature and thickness of a...
Cholesterol, the artery-clogging molecule that contributes to cardiovascular disease, has another nasty trick up its...
- 27 November 2013 12:59 pm , Vol. 342 , #6162
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ScienceShot: Jurassic Crow?
24 January 2012 11:53 am
Analyses of a single fossil feather from Archaeopteryx, a creature long considered to be the world's oldest known bird, suggest that the crow-sized animal may have been crow-colored as well. This isolated feather (left), shed about 150 million years ago but unearthed from fine-grained limestone in Bavaria in 1861, is the only remnant of the species preserved as a dark trace of organic material rather than as an impression or a cast of a body part. The size and shape of pigment-bearing structures preserved throughout the sulfur-rich fossil (arrows, right), when compared with the variety of such structures in the plumage of modern-day birds, indicate the ancient feather was almost certainly black, researchers report online today in Nature Communications. While previous studies have suggested that the object was either a primary or secondary feather—one along the trailing edge of the wing that bore aerodynamic loads and therefore helped support the creature during flight—the new study hints that the short, relatively wide plume was a so-called covert feather that helped ensure smooth airflow across the top of the wing. Only similar analyses of fossil feathers yet to be discovered can reveal whether Archaeopteryx was black all over, the researchers say.
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