Palaeontologists studying the evolution of dinosaurs’ skin and feathers think they did

As a regular reader of this blog, you are well aware that dinosaurs had feathers (unless you are a certain film franchise). Dinosaurs were covered in patches of fuzz, proto-floof, shook their tail feathers, and in some cases displayed full-fledged plumage. Over the last decade, exceptionally preserved fossils and intense genetic study have taught us a lot about feather evolution. But what do we know about the evolution of the skin of dinosaurs and early birds?

Vertebrate skin consists of several layers of cells making up the epidermis (the outer skin), the dermis (containing connective tissues, hair follicles and sweat glands) and the hypodermis (consisting of fat and connective tissues). As we grow, our skin continually renews itself. The inner layers generate new cells, which then slowly migrate to the outer layers to replace those tired, worn-out outer skin cells. This is called desquamation.

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