|Confuciusornis, an early bird/theropod |
dinosaur from 125-120 mya
- Dinosaur biogeography - with the increased number of described dinosaur species (now over 1000) and continuing new discoveries, researchers have the detail to do metanalyses of biogeography and paleoecology.
- A better understanding of the timeline for dinosaur evolution - new dinosaur trackways in Poland push back the appearance of dinosaurs to just after the great Permian/Triassic extinction.
- Dinosaur physiology - many examples in this area, including:
- Recovery of soft tissues in tyrannosaurids and hadrosaurs (duck-billed dinosaurs), including the collection of collagen and protein sequences.
- The discovery of bone-embedded air sacs indicating that theropod dinosaurs used one-way flow through their lungs like birds.
- The recent identification of melanosomes in dinosaur feathers, the organelles that produce feather coloration. This study suggests that the theropod dinosaur Sinosauropteryx had reddish-brown stripes on its tail.
- Did I mention feathers? This past decade has seen tons of research describing the wide distribution of feathers, at different evolutionary stages, across dinosaur phylogeny, including ornithischians (the taxon not closely related to birds). And a new paper has just described the developmental changes that occurred in dinosaur feathers, and suggests that dinosaurs had a wider range of feather types during development than modern birds.