Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Newly discovered close relative of T. rex is largest known feathered dinosaur

Date:
April 5, 2012
Source:
Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology
Summary:
Palaeontologists have known for more than a decade that some small dinosaurs had bird-like feathers, mainly thanks to beautifully preserved fossils from northeastern China. Now three specimens of a new tyrannosauroid from the same region show that at least one much larger dinosaur had a feathery coat as well.

Artist’s impression of a group of Yutyrannus and two individuals of the smaller Beipiaosaurus.
Credit: Dr. Brian Choo

Palaeontologists have known for more than a decade that some small dinosaurs had bird-like feathers, mainly thanks to beautifully preserved fossils from northeastern China. Now three specimens of a new tyrannosauroid from the same region show that at least one much larger dinosaur had a feathery coat as well.

The name of the new species, Yutyrannus huali, means "beautiful feathered tyrant" in a combination of Latin and Mandarin. The three specimens were collected from a single quarry in Cretaceous beds in Liaoning Province, and are described by Chinese and Canadian scientists in this week's issue of the journal Nature.

"The feathers of Yutyrannus were simple filaments," explained Professor Xu Xing of Beijing's Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology, the lead author of the study. "They were more like the fuzzy down of a modern baby chick than the stiff plumes of an adult bird."

The researchers estimate that an adult Yutyrannus would have been about 9 metres long and weighed about 1400 kg, making it considerably smaller than its infamous relative Tyrannosaurus rex but some 40 times the weight of the largest previously known feathered dinosaur, Beipiaosaurus. The large size of Yutyrannus and the downy structure of its feathers would have made flight an impossibility, but the feathers may have had another important function -- insulation.

"The idea that primitive feathers could have been for insulation rather than flight has been around for a long time," said Dr Corwin Sullivan, a Canadian palaeontologist involved in the study. "However, large-bodied animals typically can retain heat quite easily, and actually have more of a potential problem with overheating. That makes Yutyrannus, which is large and downright shaggy, a bit of a surprise."

The explanation may be climate-related, the researchers say. While the Cretaceous Period was generally very warm, Yutyrannus lived during the middle part of the Early Cretaceous, when temperatures are thought to have been somewhat cooler.

The gigantic T. rex and its closest relatives, by contrast, lived in the warm conditions of the Late Cretaceous. Isolated patches of preserved skin from these animals show scales, not feathers, but the possibility that even they were partly feathered cannot be completely ruled out.

"Yutyrannus dramatically increases the size range of dinosaurs for which we have definite evidence of feathers," Professor Xu said. "It's possible that feathers were much more widespread, at least among the meat-eating dinosaurs, than most scientists would have guessed even a few years ago."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Xing Xu, Kebai Wang, Ke Zhang, Qingyu Ma, Lida Xing, Corwin Sullivan, Dongyu Hu, Shuqing Cheng, Shuo Wang. A gigantic feathered dinosaur from the Lower Cretaceous of China. Nature, 2012; 484 (7392): 92 DOI: 10.1038/nature10906

Cite This Page:

Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology. "Newly discovered close relative of T. rex is largest known feathered dinosaur." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 April 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120405133401.htm>.
Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology. (2012, April 5). Newly discovered close relative of T. rex is largest known feathered dinosaur. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120405133401.htm
Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology. "Newly discovered close relative of T. rex is largest known feathered dinosaur." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120405133401.htm (accessed September 21, 2014).

Share This



More Fossils & Ruins News

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Iconic 'Easy Rider' Chopper Bike to Go on Auction Block

Iconic 'Easy Rider' Chopper Bike to Go on Auction Block

AFP (Sep. 19, 2014) The iconic Harley-Davidson motorbike ridden by Peter Fonda in the 1969 classic "Easy Rider" is to go under the hammer in California, and auctioneers predict it will make at least $1 million. Duration: 01:09 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Chocolate Museum Opens in Brussels

Chocolate Museum Opens in Brussels

AFP (Sep. 19, 2014) Considered a "national heritage" in Belgium, chocolate now has a new museum in Brussels. In a former chocolate factory, visitors to the permanent exhibition spaces, workshops and tastings can discover derivatives of the cocoa bean. Duration: 01:00 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Egypt Denies Claims Oldest Pyramid Damaged in Restoration

Egypt Denies Claims Oldest Pyramid Damaged in Restoration

AFP (Sep. 17, 2014) Egypt's antiquities minister denied Tuesday claims that the Djoser pyramid, the country's first, had been damaged during restoration work by a company accused of being unqualified to do such work. Duration: 00:56 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
King Richard III's Painful Cause Of Death Revealed

King Richard III's Painful Cause Of Death Revealed

Newsy (Sep. 17, 2014) King Richard III died in the Battle of Bosworth in 1485, and now researchers examining his skull think they know how. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins