Juravenator starki is a new small theropod dinosaur from the late Jurassic—the specimen is exceptionally well-preserved, and retains fossilized imprints of its skin. The surprising thing about it is that its anatomy puts it smack in the middle of a large clade of coelurosaurs, members of which are known to have feathers…and its skin is bare and scaly. What it suggests is that feather evolution was complicated (no surprise there, actually), and that some lineages secondarily lost their feathery covering, or that there were seasonal or age-related or regional variations in feather expression.
More pictures are below the fold—this really is a very pretty specimen.
Here’s the skull in UV light and in reconstruction:
The whole specimen—it’s wonderfully well preserved. The integument impressions are preserved along portions of the hind limb and tail.
Here’s where Juravenator fits into the grand scheme of things. As you can see, it’s bracketed by lineages where feathers are known, yet the preserved portions of this animal have no feathers at all.
Göhlich UB, Chiappe LM (2006) A new carnivorous dinosaur from the Late Jurassic Solnhofen archipelago. Nature 440:329-332.