Build a lesson around any TED-Ed Animation, TED Talk or YouTube video
Create a Lesson

How did feathers evolve? - Carl Zimmer

  • 459,809 Views
  • 14,554 Questions Answered
  • TEDEd Animation

Let’s Begin…

To look at the evolution of modern bird feathers, we must start a long time ago, with the dinosaurs from whence they came. We see early incarnations of feathers on dinosaur fossils, and remnants of dinosaurs in a bird’s wish bone. Carl Zimmer explores the stages of evolution and how even the reasons for feathers have evolved over millions of years.

Create and share a new lesson based on this one.

About TED-Ed Animations

TED-Ed Animation lessons feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed Animation? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Artist Armella Leung
  • Educator Carl Zimmer
  • Sound Designer Olivier Oswald
  • Narrator Carl Zimmer

Share

Additional Resources for you to Explore
Dinosaurs are a diverse group of animals. They first appeared during the Triassic period, approximately 230 million years ago, and were the dominant terrestrial vertebrates for 135 million years, from the beginning of the Jurassic (about 201 million years ago) until the end of the Cretaceous (66 million years ago), when the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event led to the extinction of most dinosaur groups at the close of the Mesozoic Era. The fossil record indicates that birds evolved from theropod dinosaurs during the Jurassic Period and, consequently, they are considered a subgroup of dinosaurs by many paleontologists. Some birds survived the extinction event that occurred 66 million years ago, and their descendants continue the dinosaur lineage to the present day.

Plenty of robots can fly -- but none can fly like a real bird. That is, until Markus Fischer and his team at Festo built SmartBird, a large, lightweight robot, modeled on a seagull, that flies by flapping its wings. A soaring demo fresh from TEDGlobal 2011.
Renowned paleontologist Jack Horner has spent his career trying to reconstruct a dinosaur. He's found fossils with extraordinarily well-preserved blood vessels and soft tissues but never intact DNA. So, in a new approach, he's taking living descendants of the dinosaur (chickens) and genetically engineering them to reactivate ancestral traits — including teeth, tails, and even hands — to make a "Chickenosaurus".
Feathers are one of the epidermal growths that form the distinctive outer covering, orplumage, on birds and some non-avian theropoddinosaurs. They are considered the most complex integumentary structures found in vertebrates, and indeed a premier example of a complex evolutionary novelty.
Watch this video by the BBC about feathers and dinosaurs and the mystery that baffled many scientists.
Eosinopteryx feathered dinosaur offers clues on bird evolution, an article by BBC.
Carl Zimmer wrote an article for National Geographic, published February 2011, on Feather Evolution.
Teded square logo
TED-Ed
Lesson Creator
New York, NY
I know someone who doesn't believe in evolution and i would respect that but she has no other explanation and just doesn't care. I don't see how people wouldn't care and it is so frustrating because when i think of an animal i think of the wonders of evolution that have occurred.
06/27/2013 • 
 1 Response
 / 1 Updates
05/01/2013 • 
 15 Responses
 / 15 Updates

Customize This Lesson

Create and share a new lesson based on this one.

About TED-Ed Animations

TED-Ed Animation lessons feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed Animation? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Artist Armella Leung
  • Educator Carl Zimmer
  • Sound Designer Olivier Oswald
  • Narrator Carl Zimmer

Share

Log In to Take or Create a Lesson

Log In to participate

Please Log In or Register to Apply

Please Log in to Access Leader Resources

If you have already logged into ted.com click Log In to verify your authentication. Click Register if you need to create a free TED-Ed account.
Log In    Register

Enter your name

Your name and responses will be shared with TED Ed.

To track your work across TED-Ed over time, Register or Login instead.