July 1, 2011
Patterns in the Plumage of the First Birds
Scientists report today that they have taken a big step in determining what the first birds looked like more than 100 million years ago, when their relatives, the dinosaurs, still ruled the Earth. At the Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, they discovered chemical traces of a pigment, an important component of color, that once formed patterns in the feathers of the fossilized birds.
Credit: Stanford University/SLAC