A rainbow coloured feathered dinosaur fossil has been discovered in China

by Dwayne Torres January 17, 2018, 1:52
A rainbow coloured feathered dinosaur fossil has been discovered in China

It could be that Caihong's "rainbow" feathers were used to attract mates, just like modern peacocks use their colourful tails.

A almost perfectly preserved fossil was found in the Hebei region of northeastern China.

It turns out, pigment isn't necessary to determine color if you are still able to see melanosomes, the cells that contain pigment. Scientists believe the crest played a significant role in mating, along with the shiny feathers.

An worldwide team led by researchers from Shenyang Normal University in China and the University of Texas at Austin studied the dino fossil, which was discovered by a Chinese farmer in 2014.

The scientists used powerful microscopes to identify remnants of organelles called melanosomes in the feathers.

The discovery suggests a more colourful Jurassic World than we previously imagined. They are called melanosomes and are vestiges of pigment sacs. The researchers say it is the earliest known dinosaur to display feathers of this type and, though they are found today on the wingtips of modern birds, Caihong's asymmetrical feathers were found on its tail.

It's unclear exactly what objective was served by the rainbow feathers on Caihong juji's head and neck, but paleontologists speculate that it may have helped the winged dinosaur attract a mate.

Caihong was a two-legged predator with a Velociraptor-like skull and sharp teeth, probably hunting small mammals and lizards. The bony crest represents a more ancient dinosaur feature, the University of Texas at Austin noted, while the iridescence, which could have helped it signal to potential mates, is newer.

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Caihong is part of a group of small, bird-like dinosaurs that lived in China during the Jurassic, but it stands out even among its closest relatives, Xu said.

The new species of dinosaur was identified from a fossil discovered by a farmer in the Hebei Province in northeastern China.

Caihong's feathers were likely both fluffy and sleek, with a mix of fuzzy down and streamlined quill-shaped pennaceous feathers.

In addition to being the oldest example of a species with rainbow feathers, the newly discovered dinosaur is the earliest known animal with asymmetrical feathers, a feature that allows modern birds to steer or turn while flying. Caihong's were on its tail, suggesting tail feathers, not arm feathers, were first utilized for aerodynamic locomotion.

A Chinese dinosaur from more than 160 million years ago had a rainbow-colored frill around its neck. "Its forelimbs were configured like wings".

Julia Clarke, a coauthor and paleontologist at the University of Texas, says that the melanosome database could help solve a number of future scientific puzzles-especially if it continues to grow.

"When I open up a drawer full of birds in The Field Museum's collections, now I want to know when those iridescent feathers first developed, and how".

Much of the rainbow dinosaur's body had dark feathers, but ribbon-like iridescent feathers covered its head and neck.

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