What Color Is My Pawpawsaurus?
August 11, 2009 5:48 PM Subscribe
posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul (62 comments total)
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Dinosaur coloration has always been a source of wild speculation. Artistic renders have ranged from the conservative (battleship grey, lizard green) to the flamboyant
, but all guesses appeared equally valid
. While there are some wonderfully preserved examples of dinosaur skin
texture, fossils have remained stubbornly monochromatic… until now.
Scientists at Yale have hit upon a line of inquiry that may solve the puzzle [article with embedded YouTube video]
. As ancient ancestors to birds, some dinosaurs were feathered: velociraptor, for example, is now known to have been fully plumaged, and many other dinosaurs were patterned with "dinofuzz
". Feathers contain melanin; different sizes and shapes of fossilised melanosomes, revealed under electron microscopes
, indicate different colors. So far scientists working in the field have been able to detect red, black, and brown in fossil feathers, with more colors almost certainly on the way.
(The title for this post was aided by the excellent DinoDictionary; references from the DinoWiki and the University of Bristol's DinoBase also contributed.)