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The specific bird in this instance is a kiwi, adapting to life underground as a mole like organism. Would their feathers grow finer and act as sensory hair like structures to "see" while digging? If they were to lose their feathers entirely, would its skin look scaly like the unfeathered parts of a theropod or continue to be fleshy and wrinkled like a plucked chicken? Would the feathers become more compact like that of a mole? Harden into pangolin like scales? What would be useful to this subterranean lifestyle?

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closed as primarily opinion-based by anon, Mołot, sphennings, Josh King, Azuaron Oct 25 '17 at 22:03

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    $\begingroup$ Do you want feathers to evolve into something different, like scales or hair, or you want them to get lost without a trace? $\endgroup$ – Alexander Oct 25 '17 at 19:47
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    $\begingroup$ This question has potential, but I think it probably needs to be rephrased a little. As it stands, I'm sure someone could answer it, but I think reworking it to focus more on your kiwi-like bird adapting to underground life would yield better results for you. The feathers might not even have to evolve away, but you could absolutely make that one of your requirements if necessary. $\endgroup$ – Pleiades Oct 25 '17 at 19:51
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    $\begingroup$ Moles have skin, snakes have scales, both can live underground. There is no way to predict evolution, its a lotto game driven by chance and influenced heavily by necessity. Thus any answer to this would be purely opinionative. This question would need some serious overhaul to refine the spectrum of answers. $\endgroup$ – anon Oct 25 '17 at 20:01
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    $\begingroup$ They'd look like w/e animal that lives underground you want them to look like. There is different reasons why those animals have those traits and w/e your bird is doing is going to be based on that. One thing is probably for sure, they probably won't look anything like a bird. $\endgroup$ – A. C. A. C. Oct 25 '17 at 20:19
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There are subterranean birds, the burrowing owl being one. They still fly, however, so this just provides you a start. They are compact (as other owls can be).

Your birds will not have wrinkled skin like a plucked chicken. Your birds will need their skin to be protected, either by scales, fur, or feathers (modified scales). You have latitude on this - Be creative.

If your bird only lives underground, then it will be well-camouflaged, because there will be no selective pressure for colored skin or feathers. It will be some shade of brown. Most exclusively-subterranean animals eventually lose their vision.

All animals need food and mates, and yours will too. If your bird lives only underground, you need to address how it will eat (does it eat seeds?) and how it will find mates. Some birds are monogamous. Some live in groups. These features could be selected for in a subterranean bird.

If your bird also lives above ground, then like the burrowing owl, very few modifications need to occur.

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Considering how closely the different types of moles have convergently evolved I'd say a safe bet is your bird would evolve quite similar body covering. However, the 'wings' would need some sort of hardened digging structure of they are to be mole-like.

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  • $\begingroup$ i actually have the feet adapted for that $\endgroup$ – Dibran Joe Oct 25 '17 at 23:48
  • $\begingroup$ That would rule out mole style tunneling. Would have to dig almost standing up or moving backwards. Only burrowing animal I know too much about is the marsupial mole. They use paws to tunnel and teeth to remove tough obstacles. $\endgroup$ – Bert Olio Oct 26 '17 at 8:47

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