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A Small Guide to Bird Colours by Eurwentala A Small Guide to Bird Colours by Eurwentala
I recently wrote a blog post (in Finnish: planeetanihmeet.wordpress.com/…) about the science of fossil dinosaur colours.  As a spinoff, I started reading about pigments in living birds and made this.

As many of you probably know, melanosomes are sometimes preserved in dinosaur fossils and can be used to deduct their original colours: Microraptor was iridescent, Sinosauropteryx had a rufous-and-white tail, etc. The method currently can only detect black, brown, and some structural hues. So how much are we missing? With this infographic, I tried to show how the rainbow of feather colours in living birds is formed.
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:iconexpect-delays:
Expect-Delays Featured By Owner Jun 10, 2017  Student Traditional Artist
Nicely done.
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:iconartapon:
Artapon Featured By Owner Jun 2, 2017  Hobbyist
Is this to say what colour of the feathered dinosaurs might be?
I thought they found the colours of the feather dinosaurs in Asia in the fossil
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:icondinobirdman:
DinoBirdMan Featured By Owner May 26, 2017  Student Artist
Hmm.... Interesting.
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:iconpatchi1995:
Patchi1995 Featured By Owner May 18, 2017  Hobbyist Artist
What if that therizinosaurs, like Therizinosaurus had yellowish colors on their tummies, to make them look like the "yellow-bellies?" What if big dinosaurs with feathers measured up to 3.5 meters long, had from the colors mixed between bright and drab, to just duller colors? What if that they got stripes to camouflage in non-forest places that looked like grasslands? What if they had spots to camouflage in deep forests? What if they had rosettes to camouflage in mixed places that looked like mix between forests and grasslands? What if they had no markings in almost plantless deserts?
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:icondinogod:
Dinogod Featured By Owner May 16, 2017  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Can I translate this into spanish and post it on my FB science communication page*?

*With all due credit of course.
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:iconeurwentala:
Eurwentala Featured By Owner May 17, 2017  Professional
Sure! Feel free to share this as long as I'm credited. Translation is ok as well.
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:iconherofan135:
herofan135 Featured By Owner May 16, 2017  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Now this is cool, I actually learned something new today! Funny how penguins and parrots have their own pigments. :party:
Great artwork aswell, love it!
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:iconjurassicjacob:
JurassicJacob Featured By Owner May 16, 2017
Thank you, this is very helpful!
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:iconthederpasaur:
TheDerpasaur Featured By Owner May 15, 2017  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
oh, thats cool!
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:iconeurwentala:
Eurwentala Featured By Owner May 15, 2017  Professional
Thanks! :)
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:iconthederpasaur:
TheDerpasaur Featured By Owner May 16, 2017  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
YOre welceom
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:iconsilverladon:
Silverladon Featured By Owner May 15, 2017  Student Artist
What about monochrome and black birds?
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:iconeurwentala:
Eurwentala Featured By Owner May 15, 2017  Professional
Eumelanin produces greys and blacks. Monochrome birds, like crows, just don't have much else beside eumelanosomes.
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:iconsilverladon:
Silverladon Featured By Owner May 16, 2017  Student Artist
Interesting - I like drawing those kinds of birds but I never knew what gives them that color, so thanks for letting me know!
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:iconhyrotrioskjan:
Hyrotrioskjan Featured By Owner May 15, 2017  Professional General Artist
Very nice! I especially like that you placed a "?" instead of "No", leaves the room open =)
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:iconeurwentala:
Eurwentala Featured By Owner May 15, 2017  Professional
Thanks! :)

I think it's likely at least some non-avian dinosaurs did have carotenoid-based pigments, and maybe an arsenal of their own colours, unknown to us. They were, after all, a diverse group of animals with full colour vision.
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:icontarturus:
Tarturus Featured By Owner May 15, 2017  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Interesting stuff. Didn't know the yellow colours found on some penguins were due to a unique pigment specific to their group.
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:iconeurwentala:
Eurwentala Featured By Owner May 15, 2017  Professional
I didn't either, until I started doing research for this. Penguins are really odd. Even their melanosomes are differently shaped from other birds. I guess swimming underwater is simply not enough: they have to do everything differently!
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:iconkailavmp:
kailavmp Featured By Owner May 15, 2017
Yeah, this pingu-pigment came as a big surprise to me as well! Convergent evolution is super-fun and so difficult at the same time! As for the infographic itself, it is beautiful and very nicely done! Lots of info compressed into as few words as possible. :)
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:iconeurwentala:
Eurwentala Featured By Owner May 18, 2017  Professional
Thanks! The way evolution works sure is fascinatingly quirky.
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:icontomozaurus:
Tomozaurus Featured By Owner May 15, 2017  Student General Artist
Excellent work!
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:iconjdailey1991:
Jdailey1991 Featured By Owner May 15, 2017
Which dinosaur had structural colors?  Because all I'd ever heard are the melanins.
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:iconeurwentala:
Eurwentala Featured By Owner May 15, 2017  Professional
Structural colours produced by the shape and positioning of melanosomes can be inferred. They were shown first in Microraptor, which was possibly glossy black, like a starling or raven. This is the original paper: science.sciencemag.org/content…

There are other structural colours too, like those produced by air gaps within the feather. The exact width of the gap scatters specific wavelenghts of light, but they are unfortunately gone in a crushed fossil.
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:iconacepredator:
acepredator Featured By Owner May 15, 2017
Re: Microraptor colours

Why did the authors who figured it's coloration say Microraptor had to be diurnal?

Because the ecology of today's iridescent birds and that of Microraptor is totally different, making any sort of statement like that invalid. Grackles and starlings are open-ground omnivores. Microraptor was a mesopredator of closed forests.

So the entire line of thinking-"Microraptor was diurnal because modern iridescent birds are"-makes no sense. By that logic, Microraptor shouldn't have teeth, live in forests, or be carnivorous.
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:iconeurwentala:
Eurwentala Featured By Owner May 15, 2017  Professional
They didn't say that. The word 'diurnal' isn't even mentioned in the paper. They only note the contrast between colouration and Microraptor's inferred nocturnality.

From Li et al. 2012:
"Interpretations of Microraptor as nocturnal based on scleral ring morphology contrast with its dark glossy plumage, a trait not found in extant nocturnal birds."
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:iconacepredator:
acepredator Featured By Owner May 16, 2017
Still, the fact they even assumed that there was a dichotomy is ridiculous.

And all the media releases said "nocturnal Microraptor has been debunked". 
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:iconeurwentala:
Eurwentala Featured By Owner May 18, 2017  Professional
I really can't read from that one sentence that the scientists themselves assumed any dichotomy. And that's literally everything they said about Microraptor's activity patterns. Bad newspapers and fanboy blogs can have all sorts of headlines that have precious little to do with the actual research.

I actually went through the trouble of googling the original news release. It's here www.sciencedaily.com/releases/… and it says very little about the issue either, only noting that iridescence is not found in modern nocturnal birds. No claims about dichotomy or debunking. Please check your facts before claiming people are idiots.
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:iconalbertonykus:
Albertonykus Featured By Owner May 15, 2017
Excellent work!
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:iconeurwentala:
Eurwentala Featured By Owner May 15, 2017  Professional
Thanks! :)
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:iconcolonel-chicken:
Colonel-Chicken Featured By Owner May 15, 2017
It really blows my mind to think about what we knows about dinosaurs nowadays - just to think that some of them might have been as colorful as modern birds makes me very happy.

Great job on the picture, it's very informative and the birds look super nice :D
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