Dinosaurs' First Feathers Were for ... Courtship
Males wanted to look nice, not fly, says study
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 25, 2012 5:54 PM CDT
Early dinosaurs might have used their feathers to lure mates.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – Scientists have found evidence of the first feathered dinosaurs in the Western Hemisphere, but forget any notions about majestic flight. Researchers think these Ornithomimosaur specimens found in what is now Alberta, Canada, used their feathers a little like modern peacocks—to attract mates, not to fly, reports the BBC. The guess is based on the fact that while both young and adult dinosaurs had downy feathers, only adults, and probably just adult males, had primitive wings.

These dinos were too big to fly, however, suggesting that the wings were just for decoration. "The occurrence of these wing-like structures in only the adult individual suggest that these structures were used later in life, perhaps for purposes like display or courtship," says a University of Calgary scientist. At some point, they may have evolved into more functional wings as the creatures evolved, explains the Los Angeles Times.