Yutyrannus: the Feathered Tyrannosaur
Chinese paleontologist Xing Xu and colleagues have published their description of a new dinosaur species today, which might be the largest feathered animal ever. It’s an early version of a T. rex they named Yutyrannus huali, meaning “beautiful feathered tyrant” in a mixture of Latin and Mandarin.
It weighed in at 1,400 kilograms (3,100 pounds), and was at least 7 or 8 metres in length. That’s 40 times bigger than Beipiaosaurus, the previous record-holder for largest feathered dinosaur (and another Xu discovery).
Xu found three skeletons of the new creature in China’s Liaoning Province. Judging by the size and the state of their bones, one of them was an adult, and the others were a decade or so younger. Except for one missing tail, they are almost complete, and in very good condition. That alone is cause for celebration. Dinosaur-hunters are often forced to describe new species based on tantalising fragments from a single skeleton; three complete ones is a jackpot.
All three specimens had long 15-centimetre feathers. Each is unevenly covered, but between the three skeletons, it’s likely that Yutyrannus was feathered from head to toe. These aren’t the flattened vanes that help most modern birds to fly. At this stage of their evolution, feathers were simply long filaments, better suited for insulation or displaying to peers, and similar to the plumes of today’s flightless emus and cassowaries.
Does this mean that T. rex had feathers? Some scientists think so. Link
Read another article about how the research on these fossils was done at The Loom. Link