A team of researchers in China have recovered fossil remains of downy feathers on two juveniles and one adult of the dinosaur Yutyrannus hauli, a distant and much smaller relative of the more famous carnivourous dinosaur Tyrannosaurus rex.
Yutyrannus hauli lived in China during the Cretacous, ca 125 million years ago. An adult Yutyrannus is estimated to have weighed 1.400 kilograms and to have been ca 9 meters long. The feathers found on the three fossil specimens are between 15-20 cm in length. The fact that the fossil feathers were found in patched on different parts of the three specimens indicate that Yutyrannus was in fact completely covered by these downy proto-feathers. The feathers are thought to have acted as insolation to retain body heat, but other theories includes helping to keep the eggs in the nest warm, attract mates or they may have acted as camouflage.
This of course raises the question whether T-rex was also feathered or not? Some think it is a ridiculous thought.
I think anyone who’s ever come across an angry goose or swan knows how scary big birds can be. Just imagine a downy 4.5 ton T-rex…
Happy Easter! 🙂