Ever wonder why some dinosaurs had feathers? From what we learned from Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park, dinosaurs are more closely related to modern birds than reptiles. But what purpose did the feathers serve? According to researchers, dinosaur feathers were used to attract mates for sex.
Fossils discovered in the badlands of southern Alberta a few years ago now point to evidence that dinosaur feathers were ornamental instead of functional. These 75-million-year-old fossils further prove that all ornithomimids — an ostrich-like creature — were covered in feathers. A researcher from the University of Calgary Darla Zelenitsky contends these dinosaur feathers patterns changed as it got older. The ornithomimids would have been covered in down-like feathers when it was younger, but through time it developed larger feathers on the forearms. This formed a wing-like structure later in life, rather than in modern birds whose wings develop at a much earlier age.
Since these wings developed later in life, Zelenitsky believes they weren’t used for flight or gliding but for attracting a mate or for egg brooding. Also, when the ornithomimids matures it can weigh up to 330 lbs. making it virtually impossible to fly at such a large mass with a smaller wingspan. But the question remains, why did ornithomimids evolve wings in the first place if not for flight?
This is a question that will need more research and for the time being, it will remain a mystery. Since the ornithomimids were so big, maybe developing wings would’ve been helpful to get away or fight off predators.