Research

Scientists discover 161 million-year-old 'rainbow dinosaur' with iridescent feathers

Scientists discover 161 million-year-old 'rainbow dinosaur' with iridescent feathers

Scientists named the dinosaur Caihong, which is the Mandarin word that stands for rainbow. After studying the fossilized remains of the bird-like dinosaur, scientists discovered that the dinosaur had colorful rainbow-like feathers.

Using powerful microscopes, the scientists detected within the feathers the remnants of organelles called melanosomes responsible for pigmentation.

A duck-sized dinosaur found in China had a head and chest covered in shiny feathers similar to those seen on hummingbirds.

The almost complete, spectacularly preserved fossil showed microscopic structures indicating that it had iridescent feathers, specifically on the head, neck and chest. "Hummingbirds have bright, iridescent feathers, but if you took a hummingbird feather and smashed it into tiny pieces, you'd only see black dust", explained Chad Eliason, a postdoctoral researcher at The Field Museum, in a press release.

A new species of dinosaur, first discovered by a farmer in north east China, likely sported lovely, rainbow-coloured feathers on its head, wings and tail, according to palaeontologists.

Caihong had dark feathers on its body and iridescent feathers on its head and neck.

Their shape determines the colour and Caihong's feathers had pancake-shaped melanosomes, similar to those of vibrantly coloured hummingbirds. The plumage might have been for mating, and could also have provided insulation.

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It is now widely accepted that many dinosaurs possessed feathers and birds evolved from small feathered dinosaurs near the end of the Jurassic Period. Co-author of the study Xing Xu, a paleontologist at the Chinese Academy of Sciences informed that the Caihong juji lived in forests and might have glided from tree to tree, preying on small lizards as well as mammals. This 161-million-year-old fossil is the oldest example of iridescence in a feathered dinosaur yet discovered.

It had crests above its eyes that looked like bony eyebrows.

In a new study, scientists have been able to identify a unique type of dinosaur species that roamed the planet during the Jurassic period. Those are a trait, which birds used to steer in their flight.

"The tail feathers are asymmetrical, but the wing feathers aren't, a weird feature previously unknown among dinosaurs and birds", said Xing Xu from the Chinese Academy of Science, a co-author of the study. Caihong's were on its tail, suggesting tail feathers, not arm feathers, were first utilized for aerodynamic locomotion.

'Its forelimbs were configured like wings.

When Reuters asked "what someone might say upon seeing Caihong, University of Texas paleontologist Julia Clarke responded, "'Wow!' And if they are anything like me, they might want one as a pet. "Not suitable for children".

Their findings were published in the journal Nature Communications.


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