A previously unknown species of giant, feathered tyrannosaur has been discovered in China, making it the largest-known feathered animal, living or extinct.
Tyrannosaurus rex and its cousins lived until around 65 million years ago and earlier relatives are thought to have been much smaller than the T-Rex we have come to know, but this notion has been challenged by the discovery of three specimens of a new species of tyrannosauroid from the Lower Cretaceous, 125 million years ago. The dinosaur, Yutyrannus huali, whose name translates from Latin and Mandarin as ‘beautiful feathered tyrant’, shares some features with derived tyrannosaurs, but has three-fingered forelimbs and a typical theropod foot, like other early tyrannosaur relatives.
Smaller dinosaurs with primitive feathers have been discovered before, but this is the first direct sign of a huge dinosaur that is...shaggy.
It seems T-Rex had a softer, gentler side. Or at least it might look that way to us unless we saw it up close. It was 30 feet long and weighed in at 1,400 kilograms, previously unknown sizes for basal tyrannosauroids of the Lower Cretaceous. The two juveniles also discovered may have tipped the scales at a half-ton.
Artist’s impression of a group of Yutyrannus huali and two individuals of the smaller Beipiaosaurus. Credit: Dr Brian Choo
It certainly looks a lot like derived tyrannosauroids - the skull is large and deep, for example. What about those feathers, though? Well, evolution is fickle. Most large mammals became almost entirely hairless because low surface-to-volume ratios allowed them to retain metabolic heat but Y. huali lived during a period colder than the rest of the Cretaceous - later tyrannosauroids lived in a much warmer climate.
Fuzzy, even cuddly. Maybe Tyrannosaurus needs a new marketing campaign.
Citation: 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, doi:10.1038/nature10906
- PHYSICAL SCIENCES
- EARTH SCIENCES
- LIFE SCIENCES
- SOCIAL SCIENCES
Subscribe to the newsletter
Stay in touch with the scientific world!
Know Science And Want To Write?
- "Minor correction: I am, in fact, a scientist with 27 years of biomedical research in my pocket..."
- "These two posts highlight further the deplorable state of science reporting in the mainstream media...."
- "So he should have given credit to Merck then - they are the ones who take it out of the realm of..."
- "I thankyou for providing me and my friends with good chuckles. What you mean by tested is not what..."
- "Not among millions, just hundreds. Can anyone provide evidence for Roberts first sentence. The..."
- Counter-Point: Activists Operate By Outrage, Not Fear
- Whole Foods Recalls Organic Roquefort Cheeses After Listeria Found
- Suicide Tries Linked to Weight-Loss Surgery? Study Doesn’t Show
- Following Rules, Refreezing Thawed Meat is Safe
- Even With Sex, Practice Does Make Perfect
- African Ebola Epidemic Shows Signs of Winding Down
- 'Blind analysis' could reduce bias in social sciences papers
- Adoption of streamlined breast cancer treatment has stagnated, study finds
- Single atom alloy platinum-copper catalysts cut costs, boost green technology
- Scientists pave way for diamonds to trace early cancers
- Long-term contraception in a single shot