Dinosaur Fossil Discovered With Soft Tissue and Feather Patterns Like a Six-Foot
Hold onto your feathery butts.
We used to think of dinosaurs as reptilian death machines (thanks, Jurassic Park), but now we know them as vaguely avian death machines. How the times have changed. Thanks, science!
Further strengthening the link between dinosaurs and birds, an Ornithomimus fossil was recently discovered with feather patters and even some soft tissue still preserved. Discovered by paleontologist Aaron J. van der Reest in the Upper Cretaceous Dinosaur Park Formation of Alberta, the 75 million-year-old specimen not only shows us what the dinosaur’s tail feathers looked like, but also indicates that, like birds, the feathers were absent on the legs. van der Reest wrote in a press release,
Ostriches use bare skin to thermoregulate. Because the plumage on this specimen is virtually identical to that of an ostrich, we can infer that Ornithomimus was likely doing the same thing, using feathered regions on their body to maintain body temperature. It would’ve looked a lot like an ostrich.
But don’t let that news about the approximately 2-meter dinosaur fool you.
Ornithomimus is actually not thought to be a dinosaur whose descendants would’ve evolved into birds—instead residing on a neighboring evolutionary branch—which means that the bird-like features came from a common ancestor even further back in nature’s history. This specimen could even help improve methods of identifying whether other fossils are likely to have preserved feathers and tissue.
So now we have even more solid evidence that the age of the dinosaurs was a lot more feathery and bird-like than we realized, but never forget to pull your best Dr. Grant if someone’s disappointed by that news.
(via Gizmodo, images via Universal Studios)
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