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."

Posted February 5, 2010 at 5:45pm ETC by Andy Towle
in News, science