If proper diagnostic feathers are present in a sample, it may be possible to use the microscopic characters in the downy (plumulaceous) barbules to assign the feather sample to a particular group, order, or family of birds (Dove, 2000).
In this study, feather samples were identified mainly by microscopic examination of the downy (plumulaceous) barbs that are located at the base of most contour feathers (Fig.
A descriptive and phylogenetic analysis of plumulaceous feather characters in Charadriiformes.
Feathers derive from a complex process of morphogenesis inside embryonic feather filaments that begins with the formation of barb ridges and terminates with the formation of barbs, free in plumulaceous
feathers and regularly joined to a rachis in pennaceous feathers (Lucas & Stettenheim, 1972; Chuong & Widelitz, 1999; Prum & Dyck, 2003; Sawyer & Knapp, 2003).