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.
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.