Thursday, January 28, 2010

Dinosaur had ginger feathers

A team of scientists from China and the UK has currently revealed that the bristles of this 125 million-year-old Dinosaur were in fact ginger-coloured feathers.

The researchers say that the very small carnivore had a Mohican of feathers running along its head and back. It also had a stripy tail.

The team revealed details of the Dinosaur's colored feathers in an article published on Nature's website.

The team began by studying the fossilised ruins of a bird, Confuciusornis, which also lived during the premature cretaceous period.

Confuciusornis' featherswere preserved in very complete Fossils that were lately discovered in northern China.

Using a powerful electron microscope to look in the interior feathers, researchers were capable to see microscopic structures called melanosomes, which, in life, include the pigment melanin.

Melanin is what gives color to human hair and animal pelt, said Professor Mike Benton from the University of Bristol, UK, who led this study. They are also the most general way that colors are [produced] in feathers.

Professor Benton explained that differently shaped melanosomes produced dissimilar colors, with blacks or greys produced by sausage-shaped melanosomes, and reddish or russet shades found in globular ones.

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