‘Rainbow’ dinosaur discovery: Tiny dino had colorful feathers


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The fossilized stays of a tiny duck-sized dinosaur with rainbow feathers have been found.

Dubbed Caihong juji, which is Mandarin for ‘rainbow with a giant crest,’ the dinosaur discovery was revealed in a paper printed within the journal Nature Communications.

The dino, which had a bony crest on its head, probably sported iridescent feathers on its head, wings and tail, in keeping with paleontologists. The brilliant feathers have been in all probability much like a contemporary hummingbird’s feathers.


“Once you have a look at the fossil document, you usually solely see laborious components like bone, however each on occasion, comfortable components like feathers are preserved, and also you get a glimpse into the previous,” defined Chad Eliason, a postdoctoral researcher at The Area Museum and one of many examine’s authors, in an announcement. “The preservation of this dinosaur is unbelievable, we have been actually excited after we realized the extent of element we have been in a position to see on the feathers.”

An illustration of a reconstruction of the iridescent dinosaur which had rainbow feathers, named Caihong juji, unearthed in China, is proven on this October 31, 2016 picture launched on Jan. 15, 2018. (Illustration by Velizar Simeonovski, The Area Museum/Handout by way of REUTERS)

The specimen was discovered by a neighborhood farmer Qinglong County, Hebei Province, China and bought by the Paleontological Museum of Liaoning in February, 2014.

Eliason, who started work on the venture as a graduate scholar on the College of Texas at Austin, defined that consultants analyzed Caihong’s melanosomes, the components of cells that include pigment. “To search out the colour of Caihong’s feathers, we in contrast its melanosomes with a rising database of 1000’s of measurements of melanosomes present in fashionable birds,” he stated.


Colour is just not solely dictated by pigment, however by the construction of the melanosomes that include the pigment. “Hummingbirds have brilliant, iridescent feathers, however in the event you took a hummingbird feather and smashed it into tiny items, you’d solely see black mud. The pigment within the feathers is black, however the shapes of the melanosomes that produce that pigment are what make the colours in hummingbird feathers that we see,” stated Eliason.

The dinosaur is the earliest-known animal with asymmetrical feathers – a function that fashionable birds use for steering in flight. Caihong, nonetheless, couldn’t fly – its feathers have been in all probability used to draw mates and hold heat.

Xing Xu of the Chinese language Academy of Science, who co-authored the examine, notes that, in contrast to fashionable birds, who’ve asymmetrical feathers on their wingtips, Caihong’s asymmetrical feathers have been on its tail. “The tail feathers are asymmetrical however wing feathers not, a weird function beforehand unknown amongst dinosaurs together with birds,” he stated, in an announcement. “This means that controlling [flight] may need been first advanced with tail feathers throughout some form of aerial locomotion.”


The bony crest on Caihong’s head can be noteworthy when mixed with its feathered options. “This mix of traits is somewhat uncommon,” stated examine co-author Julia Clarke of the College of Texas at Austin, within the assertion. “It has a velociraptor-type cranium on the physique of this very avian, absolutely feathered, fluffy form of type.”

The worldwide group that labored on the Caihong venture was led by Dongyu Hu, a professor within the School of Paleontology on the Shenyang Regular College in China.

Caihong is just not the one dinosaur making headlines. In a separate announcement, paleontologists not too long ago revealed the invention of a brand new turkey-sized dino species in southeastern Australia.

Comply with James Rogers on Twitter @jamesjrogers

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