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J Exp Zool. 1999 Aug 15;285(2):146-57.

Beta-keratin specific immunological reactivity in feather-like structures of the cretaceous alvarezsaurid, Shuvuuia deserti.

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  • 1Department of Biology, Montana State University, Bozeman, Montana 59717, USA.


We report small fibrous structures associated with a new specimen of Shuvuuia deserti, which we hypothesize are remnants of feather-like epidermal appendages. Multiple analyses suggest that these structures are epidermally derived and contain epitopes consistent with beta-keratin, a protein expressed only in extant "reptiles" and birds. Morphological, microscopic, mass spectrometric, and immunohistochemical studies are consistent with the interpretation that these structures are related to feathers. These data suggest that proteinaceous components may survive across geological time and support the view that alvarezsaurids (Shuvuuia and its allies) are either a lineage of birds or are a lineage phylogenetically close to them. J. Exp. Zool. (Mol. Dev. Evol.) 285:146-157, 1999.

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