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Scientists Decode Coloring of a Bird-like Dinosaur


Following last week's revelation that a certain dinosaur had a ginger-ringed tail, scientists have announced the first full-body rendering of another dinosaur:

"They report that a complicated pattern of reddish brown, black, gray, and white feathers covered the fossilized dinosaur, leading to speculation that perhaps this coloration was used for attracting mates or some form of visual communication, as is often the case in living birds. The new find's implications for the evolution of feathering and flight are 'striking,' said study co-author Julia Clarke, a vertebrate paleontologist at the University of Texas in Austin.

NYT: "Working with paleontologists at the Beijing Museum of Natural History and Peking University, the researchers began to study a 150-million-year-old species called Anchiornis huxleyi. The chicken-sized theropod was festooned with long feathers on its arms and legs. The researchers removed 29 chips, each the size of a poppy seed, from across the dinosaur’s body. Mr. Vinther put the chips under a microscope and discovered melanosomes. To figure out the colors of Anchiornis feathers, Mr. Vinther and his colleagues turned to Matthew Shawkey, a University of Akron biologist who has made detailed studies of melanosome patterns in living birds. Dr. Shawkey can accurately predict the color of feathers from melanosomes alone. The scientists used the same method to decipher Anchiornis’s color pattern."

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  1. i live in a dream world. i don't have any realistic dreams for my life. i spend my life wondering what it would be like to soar through space and see galaxies and other solar systmes with my own eyes. i spend my life wanting to be able to go back in time and take photogaphs of what was probably a physically gorgeous Earth during the time of the dinosaurs, i want to experience the sights and smells and sounds of prehistoric time. i spend my life wondering what it would be like to live 5000 years from now. i have no realistic dreams. i dream of what i can never have or experience, and i wouldn't have it any other way.

    Posted by: casey | Feb 5, 2010 6:14:32 PM

  2. Great Scott! The earth will stop spinning when it is finally revealed that T-Rex was really a flaming queen and looked like a peacock!

    Posted by: Craig | Feb 5, 2010 6:55:30 PM

  3. Yeah, Casey. Me too.

    Posted by: JeffRob | Feb 5, 2010 8:08:19 PM

  4. Casey and JeffRob, many scientists and astronomers working in fields like this feel much the same.

    Posted by: Paul R | Feb 5, 2010 11:11:23 PM

  5. Thank you for that Craig, my morning was in need of a good laugh!

    Posted by: Robert | Feb 6, 2010 9:48:39 AM

  6. I wonder what Pat Robertson will have to say about this discovery.

    Posted by: Ken | Feb 6, 2010 10:02:13 AM

  7. Hurry, someone, and copyright this image.
    It would make a great team mascot.
    Now, someone come up with a clever appropriate name for the team based on the image. (for a gay sports league, of course)

    Posted by: Derek | Feb 6, 2010 10:10:12 AM

  8. I’m sorry to be pedantic*, but all birds are dinosaurs. The title is redundant.

    * This is a lie. I love pedantry.

    Posted by: Gyeong Hwa Pak | Feb 6, 2010 4:08:45 PM

  9. Birds are not dinosaurs. You're not being pedantic, you're just being wrong.

    Posted by: Eshto | Feb 6, 2010 4:43:50 PM

  10. No, birds are not dinosaurs, but it's becoming clearer and clearer that birds certainly are about as closely related to them as any species that exists on earth.

    I heard rumors that a new Jurassic Park movie is going to be made. If the dinosaurs don't have feathers (like we now know they probably should), I don't think I'm going to go =p

    Posted by: Ryan | Feb 7, 2010 4:01:11 AM

  11. They will design the dinosaurs with the dumb American movie-going public in mind, not the science. They may have feather-ish spines like the velociraptors in the third film, but not all out feathers, which would make them look less fierce.

    Posted by: Eshto | Feb 7, 2010 12:50:51 PM

  12. No you are all wrong. Birds are dinos. Look it up on wikipedia.

    Posted by: Gyeong Hwa Pak | Feb 7, 2010 7:08:19 PM

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