Feathers are epidermal growths that form the distinctive outer covering, or plumage, on birds and other, extinct species’ of dinosaurs. They are considered the most complex integumentary structures found in vertebrates and a premier example of a complex evolutionary novelty. They are among the characteristics that distinguish the extant birds from other living groups.
Although feathers cover most parts of the body of birds, they arise only from certain well-defined tracts on the skin. They aid in flight, thermal insulation, and waterproofing. In addition, coloration helps in communication and protection. Plumology (or plumage science) is the name for the science that is associated with the study of feathers.