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In short summary

A cockatrice is is essentially a a two legged dragon that has the head and body of a rooster, it also has a serpentine like tail and either has feather like wings or webbed like wings. enter image description here what environmental pressures would lead to the existence of a cockatrice

Also, I’m aware that with a single look at the cockatrice, it’s capable of petrifying you, but there are already many answers on this site that explain how that’s possible. Here is the entire list of Anatomically Correct Series

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    $\begingroup$ Related: Viability of scansoriopterygid wyverns?. $\endgroup$ – A Rogue Ant. Feb 13 '20 at 2:20
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    $\begingroup$ blog.hmns.org/2017/06/… Picttre in the blog is almost exactly what you ask for $\endgroup$ – SZCZERZO KŁY Feb 13 '20 at 9:54
  • $\begingroup$ Basically a super-big, bat winged, scaly tailed, and poison-spitting Yi dinosaur who move it's tail in a serpentine fashion, with the ''scales'' being hard feathers that look exactly like scales. $\endgroup$ – Mammon Jan 2 at 19:19
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Basically grab a Cretaceous-era (or even Jurassic) theropod (dinosaurs that include Trex and all birds) and make them only evolve feathers over half of their body (for all we know there was one like this we just don’t have a well-preserved fossil). Then make them survive (preferably in a smaller form) the mass extinction til your time frame.

Here’s a good list of reasons dino’s might have evolved feathers: https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.theguardian.com/science/lost-worlds/2013/jun/05/dinosaurs-fossils

Choose your favorite! And then add a reason not to put them on the legs. Mine would be sexual selection towards impressive (and oddly rooster-like) feather displays which didn’t evolve over the bottom-half of its body to avoid fleas jumping up onto it.

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    $\begingroup$ Was about to say this myself. It's ironic how close medevial depictions of a cockatrice resemble modern dinosaur depictions. And there are actually a lot of dinosaurs that have feathers but lack them on their tail or legs (e.g., Kulindadromeus), the degree of feathering varies between taxa. Birds actually have both scales and feathers, and ostriches have legs without feathers. $\endgroup$ – user2352714 Feb 13 '20 at 4:13
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Your creature is a larger descendant of the Yi which is from a really weird group of dinosaurs. Their tails are not very long but they do have huge feathers sticking out of them which may give the appearance of a longer tail. Or you could just have them evolve a longer tail as they grow larger perhaps for better balance while running. There are bird feathers that superficially look like scales and could easily fool someone, so their tails could just look like they are covered in scales. Just make it part of a mating display maybe one that requires moving the tail in a serpentine fashion.

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The cockatrice could have evolved from an aquatic long-tailed bird, that evolve to move into muddy swamps. It may lose its feathers to avoid parasites, and may change its wings into a vaguely bat-like structure. The feathers over the rest of the body might reduce into scales, to protect the bare skin. It may also develop a comb, for sexual selection. They may evolve to protect against predators by secreting toxic gases from their skin. They may also evolve to produce a burst of flame, and to have a toxic body.

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