Dig in China turns up ferocious and fluffy dinosaur
Fossils discovered in northeastern China of a giant, previously unrecognized dinosaur show that it is the largest known feathered animal, living or extinct, scientists report.
Although several species of dinosaurs with feathers have already been uncovered in the rich fossil beds of Liaoning Province, the three largely complete 125-million-year-old specimens are by far the largest. The adult was at least 30 feet long and weighed a ton and a half, about 40 times the heft of Beipiaosaurus, the largest previously known feathered dinosaur. The two juveniles were a mere half ton each.
The new species was a distant relative of Tyrannosaurus rex, the mighty predator that lived 60 million years later, at the end of the dinosaur era…
In an article in the journal Nature…Chinese and Canadian paleontologists said the discovery provided the first “direct evidence for the presence of extensively feathered gigantic dinosaurs” and offered “new insights into early feather evolution.”
Xing Xu of the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology in Beijing, who was the lead author of the paper, said in a statement that it was “possible that feathers were much more widespread, at least among meat-eating dinosaurs, than most scientists would have guessed even a few years ago.”
Dr. Xu said the feathers were simple filaments, more like the fuzzy down of a modern baby chick than the stiff plumes of an adult bird. Such insubstantial feathers, not to mention the animal’s huge size, would have made flight impossible. The feathers’ most important function was probably as insulation.
The species has been named Yutyrannus huali, which means “beautiful feathered tyrant” in a combination of Latin and Mandarin.
“This is a great time to be a dinosaur paleontologist,” said Mark Norell, whose research concentrates on fossils from China and the Gobi Desert of Mongolia. “The feathered dinosaurs show how the whole conception of dinosaurs has really changed in the last 15 years.”
If you feel like wasting a couple of minutes – since this is one of those rare articles in the NY TIMES where they permitted comment – wander around till you stumble over comments from some of the flat-earthers. Hilarious. They’re still trying to account for dinosaurs while justifying their rejection of science and evolution. One relies on Ann Coulter as his font of science.
On the other side, the best discussion is considering this find a distant relative of Big Bird.
Aside from the giggles, this is another expansion of knowledge of the thunder lizards that once dominated this planet.