How did feathers evolve? From the fossil record, we know that birds evolved from dinosaurs, some of which had feathers. But those first feathers had nothing to do with flight—they probably helped dinosaurs show off, hide, or stay warm. Scientists recently worked out a hypothesis to explain how complex flight feathers could have evolved. They probably began as simple tufts, or so-called “dino fuzz”, and then gradually developed into interlocking structures capable of supporting flight.

Launch the immersive Feathers Through Time Interactive Feature section. Launch Now
Feathers Through Time is part of a larger Interactive Feature where you'll find:
  1. What is Unique to Birds? Discover which anatomical features are unique to birds What is Unique to Birds?
  2. How Feathers Are Built Explore feather anatomy—from the fluffy downs to the aerodynamic flight feathers How Feathers Are Built
  3. What Feathers Do Learn how feathers function to help birds fly, show off, blend in, stay warm, and keep dry What Feathers Do
  4. Feathers Through Time Get the scoop on how and why feathers evolved on the dinosaur ancestors of birds Feathers Through Time
  5. Meet a Feather Scientist Follow the scientific journey that uncovered how some feathers act as musical instruments Meet a Feather Scientist
  6. Think About Feathers Take a minute to reflect on what you've learned about feathers Think About Feathers

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