Fossil Discovery: Largest Known Feathered Dinosaur

An exciting new fossil discovery has been recently found. The largest known feathered dinosaur fossil was uncovered in China.  What’s more interesting is this fossil seems to be a close relative of Tyrannosaurus Rex. Here is an excerpt of the article from slate.com with details:

Feathered Dinosaur Fossil is Largest Ever Found

Paleontologists in China have discovered the fossil remains of the largest known feathered animal, alive or extinct. Feathers aren’t a new find in dinosaur hunting, but previously found feathered species were 40 times smaller than the 30-foot long adult found in the Liaoning Province in northeastern China.

Named Yutyrannus huali, a combination of Latin and Mandarin meaning “beautiful feathered tyrant,” the distant relative of T. Rex had feathers that resembled the fuzzy down of modern chicks. The findings also revealed that dinosaurs kept their feathers through adulthood, a fact that sweeps aside a notion that plumage was only for the young and shed as they grew.

While researchers pointed to the possibility of insulation in a cooling climate, the use of the feathers for appearances hasn’t been totally ruled out either. Whatever the feathered giant means, the latest findings prove one thing without a doubt: It’s an exciting time to be a paleontologist.
www.slate.com

There is some speculation going around that perhaps even the might T. Rex himself had feathers as mentioned in this article:

Was T. rex fuzzy?
The discovery of a giant meat-eating dinosaur with a soft, fluffy coat has some scientists rethinking what Tyrannosaurus rex looked like.

With a killer jaw and sharp claws, T. rex has always been shown as having scaly skin in movies and museums. But the discovery of one of its earlier relatives makes scientists think the king of the dinosaurs had a softer side.

The evidence comes from the discovery of a new tyrannosaur species in northeastern China that lived 60 million years before T. rex. Along with the bones, researchers found fluffy down, making it the largest feathered dinosaur ever found.

If a T. rex relative had feathers, why not T. rexhimself?

“People need to start changing their image of T. rex,” said Luis Chiappe, director of the Dinosaur Institute at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, who was not part of the team that discovered the new species.

Much smaller dinosaurs with primitive feathers have been found in recent years, but this is the first direct sign of a huge, shaggy dinosaur. Scientists have long debated whether gigantic dinosaurs lost their feathers as they got bigger or whether they just didn’t have as many feathers.

The new tyrannosaur species, Yutyrannus huali, was described this month in the journal Nature. Its name is a blend of Latin and Mandarin and translates to “beautiful feathered tyrant.”
www.washingtonpost.com

It will be interesting to see how the results of this find pan out.  It just goes to show that there is certainly an infinite amount more to be learned about these ancient mystical creature we call “Dinosaurs”.

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Colored Feathers Found in 70-million-year-old Amber Fossil

Everyone knows that a lot of what we know about the dinosaur age comes from items that have been found in amber. Something everyone may not know is that a new piece of amber, thought to be over 70 million years old has been found in Alberta, Canada. This piece of amber holds impressions of feathers of 11 different specimens of that time that had some kind of chemical coloring agent.

There have been discoveries of many types of birds from this age (most of these came from China). These birds may have had a single bristle-like feather or more complex feathers such as hook-like barbules (these resemble velcro), or feathers built for flight. Some even had feathers that allowed them to dive under water.

The pigment cells that were encased in the amber allowed scientists to learn a lot about these prehistoric animals. The scientists were able to learn that the birds of that era are not that different from the birds we see today. They contained some of the same mottled patterns and showed some diffuse colors. The preserved pieces, although small, show a wide range of feather pigmentation ranging from almost transparent to dark.

There has hardly been a season that has passed without some form of dinosaur discovery. Scientist and paleontologists are still looking for bone fossils in Canada, China, and all over the world. There is much more to be learned about the Mesozoic era and the animals that were able to live in it.

Although we as a community may be used to looking at the dioramas in museums as drab colors, we have to remember that they are dinosaurs. Through the many finds in China and Canada, we may be able to see a slight bit of color in the years to come.