Of Dinosaurs and Feathers

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Not everyone likes seeing animals that have traditionally been wrapped in scales begin to sprout brightly-colored plumage, especially when such changes threaten to dispel the menacing appearance of Hollywood dinosaur villains.

Not long after the Walking With Dinosaurs 3D settled on their scaly Gorgosaurus, paleontologist Xu Xing and colleagues described a roughly 30 foot long, one and a half ton tyrannosauroid that wore an expansive coat of protofeathers. Yutyrannus, along with some experimental work on how large animals shed body heat, suggest that body size was not a barrier to being a fluffy dinosaur.

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Maybe a spate of future discoveries will show how tyrannosaurs gradually lost feathery body coverings as they evolved.

The dinosaur’s appearance is open to multiple hypotheses. Scales-only cannot be taken as the default any more than totally-feathery tyrannosaurids can. But given how the story of dinosaur feathers has unfolded, I’d bet on the fuzz.

Via National Geographic for the full debate.

This entry was posted in Science by Heretic. Bookmark the permalink.

About Heretic

I design video games for a living, write fiction, political theory and poetry for personal amusement, and train regularly in Western European 16th century swordwork. On frequent occasion I have been known to hunt for and explore abandoned graveyards, train tunnels and other interesting places wherever I may find them, but there is absolutely no truth to the rumor that I am preparing to set off a zombie apocalypse. Nothing that will stand up in court, at least. I use paranthesis with distressing frequency, have a deep passion for history, anthropology and sociological theory, and really, really, really hate mayonnaise. But I wash my hands after the writing. Promise.

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