Would Birding Frontiers readers like this..?

said National Geographic Magazine

No Kidding! Got an email from some of the guys at the 120 year old magazine. Famed for its yellow-bordered front cover, and awesome award winning photo journalism, it was a bit of an honour (and surprise!).  The scoop is an article entitled:

‘The Long, Curious, Extravagant  History of Feathers” by Carl Zimmer.

It’s in this months National Geographic magazine, February 2011, on newsstands from today (January 25). The author addresses the question: If feathers did not evolve first for flight, what was their purpose? Fossil discoveries from a recently as 2009 shape the discussion.

I will be interviewing Carl Zimmer with a few questions from readers of Birding Frontiers. Interview to follow shortly.

“First Came Fuzz”

“Birds evolved from dinosaurs, but the origin of their feathers may trace back even deeper in time, to the common ancestor of dinosaurs and pterosaurs, like the fossil at left. These flying reptiles were covered with thin filaments that may have looked something like the down on this pheasant chick.

The flying reptile fossil is Jeholopterus ningchengensis, 168-152 million years ago, China. At Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology, Beijing.”

photo credits: Robert Clark/National Geographic. Photo Caption: National Geographic.

also see:http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2011/02/feathers/clark-photography

Tail feather, assists in climbing
Institute of Zoology and Zoological Museum, University of Hamburg. Robert Clark/National Geographic.

It’s a great read, and begins:

“Most of us will never get to see nature’s greatest marvels in person. We won’t get a glimpse of a colossal squid’s eye, as big as a basketball. The closest we’ll get to a narwhal’s unicornlike tusk is a photograph. But there is one natural wonder that just about all of us can see, simply by stepping outside: dinosaurs using their feathers to fly…”

In this copy- out today: (with thanks to Kamie Pamulapati and Kate Baylor of National Geographic Magazine)

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