Kulindadromeus zabaikalicus, the first known fluffy ornithischian dinosaur. Only officially announced last week, this little 1.5m long (~5ft) Jurassic critter is an incredibly significant find. Until now all known examples of feathered dinosaurs have been members of the theropod branch, but Kulindadromeus is a basal neornithischian, much more closely related to hadrosaurs, ceratopsians and pachycephalosaurs.
Two other ornithischians, Tianyulong and Psittacosaurus, were previously known to have sported quill-like bristles, but this new find is the first example of actual filamentous “dinofuzz” in the group. The fossils of Kulindadromeus preserve three different types of feathery integument — hair-like filaments on the body, downy tufts on the upper limbs, and strange “ribbon-like” feathers on its shins — as well as scaly skin on the tail and lower limbs.
The idea that fuzzy ‘protofeather’-like structures might be ancestral to all dinosaurs (or maybe even deeper in the archosauria) is starting to look increasingly likely…