Feathered Dinosaur Revolution
–by Ken Zuniga.
If you think about lizards or alligators when you think of dinosaurs, you might want to think again. Many dinosaur species were feathered and recent evidence shows that the feather colors of some were as bright and varied as a toucan’s.
Julie Clarke, University of Texas professor, is helping redraw the world’s view of dinosaurs by pioneering tools that allow scientists to decipher color in feathered dinosaurs.
“In dinosaurs, it’s been really well established, include living birds,” Clarke said. “So what we’re doing is using information about how living birds color their feathers to look into the fossil record and interpret basically information we didn’t even know to look for.”
Clarke and her team take samples of feathered dinosaur specimens that have been preserved and look at their patterning and coloration. She then compares those specimens with living bird species. The results show that dinosaurs we thought were camouflage green or muddy brown were actually brightly colored.
“Increasingly we’re learning that perhaps all dinosaurs were covered in tiny filaments or bristles,” Clarke said. “So it’s really remarkable how our concepts of dinosaurs are changing.”