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Study shows feathers gave dinosaurs an advantage

Updated: 2022-07-27 08:28 ( Xinhua )
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An international research team has determined that dinosaurs were born with feathers, helping them insulate from the cold and survive the mass extinction about 200 million years ago.

The insulated dinosaurs were well adapted to the period of volcanic activity and plummeting temperatures, and rapidly took over the regions formerly dominated by large non-insulated reptiles, according to a study paper published in the journal Science Advances.

Previous studies have shown that no glaciers existed on Earth from the late Triassic (about 230 million to 200 million years ago) to the early Jurassic period, and forests covered the planet at the time.

The joint team of Chinese and American scientists from the Nanjing Institute of Geology and Palaeontology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, and Columbia University found abundant lake ice-rafted debris in the Junggar Basin in Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region.

The debris derived from the late Triassic and early Jurassic strata indicated that seasonal freezing occurred at the poles, despite there being no glaciers.

They also found well-preserved dinosaur footprint fossils in the basin, which suggested that dinosaurs lived in the polar regions from the late Triassic to the early Jurassic period and had adapted to the frigid seasonal temperatures.

"We infer through phylogenetic bracket analysis that dinosaurs were primitively born with feathers, not for flying, but most likely for insulation," says Sha Jingeng, a researcher at the Nanjing Institute of Geology and Palaeontology.

The paper showed that the feathers, or protofeathers, were filamentous integumentary coverings, which enabled the dinosaurs to access rich deciduous and evergreen Arctic vegetation, even under freezing winter conditions.

The research team believes that the volcanic winters led to the mass extinction at the end of the Triassic. Volcanic ash and aerosols caused by massive volcanic eruptions obscured the sun and increased the reflection of solar radiation, leading to a reduction in global temperatures on land.

The volcanic winters, which lasted for years, decimated all medium to large-sized, non-insulated continental reptiles, leaving feathered dinosaurs to survive, according to the paper.

"Dinosaurs saw a rapid expansion in size and distribution range, nearly doubling their total population, in the Jurassic period. From then on, the creature began its domination on land that would last about 130 million years," Sha says.

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The news conference of the 2022 China International Travel Mart, Kunming, Yunnan province. [Photo/Chinaculture.org]

The 2022 China International Travel Mart was launched in Kunming, Yunnan province today. The three-day event opened at the Kunming Dianchi Lake International Convention and Exhibition Centre, with a theme focusing on smart innovation and high-quality tourism industry aspects.

The news conference was held in the city on Thursday. Zhang Xilong, first class inspector of the Bureau of the International Communication and Cooperation of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of China and Lou Kewei, deputy-director of the Department of Culture and Tourism of Yunnan province presented the meeting along with academy and entrepreneur representatives.

The conference introduced the preparations and relevant activities of the mart, such as a forum on smart tourism and innovation, a symposium on international travel communication and cooperation in the framework of Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and a workshop on the China-Laos railway’s contribution to building an Asian community with a shared future.

According to the news meeting, the 2022 travel mart covers about 80,000 square meters, with about 4,200 standard booths. 71 countries and regions attended the event both online and offline, and 31 domestic provinces, cities and autonomous regions and 261 independent exhibition teams.

Online services will be provided to the overseas buyers and sellers in the light of time zones. They could also have a face-to-face negotiation at the mart as well.

The mart also has diverse displays to show culture and tourism, physical education and tourism, as well as overseas tourism and museums.

The National Cultural Heritage Administration, the Palace Museum and museums from other provinces will attend the travel mart.

At the event, Yunnan province will have 2,000 standard booths in four separate sections; each will show culture tourism, healthy lifestyles, physical education tourism and culture tourism consumption.

The travel mart will also stick to the rules of pandemic prevention and control while having the activities go on smoothly.

The news conference of the 2022 China International Travel Mart, Kunming, Yunnan province. [Photo/Chinaculture.org]
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