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?
- Suggestion: The EM Drive Is Getting The Appropriate Level Of Attention From The Science Community
- Will Aspartame Critics Now Be Less Bitter?
- GMOs Have Formaldehyde? Bizarre Claim Challenged By Experts
- (Well)-Paid PhD Position In Physics Offered In Padova, Italy
- Bees: Activists Remain Silent While This Pollinator Killer Decimates Millions
- New Ice Age Is Coming, By 2030, Says Analysis
- Vladimir Putin Thinks The World Of Sepp Blatter
- "I am not trolling. I am genuinely appalled at academic pay. 50K E would be considered bad pay for..."
- "Yep - and anyway 50k/y is 1.5 times what a researcher with 20 years of experience makes, in Italy..."
- "Troll away, or tell me where more than 50k euro/year, plus tuition fees and paid participation..."
- "The answer appears to be ideology. You are too kind. An ideology, in my view, is a set of..."
- "You mean Ernest Lawrence for the first two, of course. They got Oppy to run Los Alamos because..."
- Mild hypothermia in deceased organ donors improves organ function in kidney transplant
- Trying to quit smoking? First strengthen self-control
- Paralyzed men move legs thanks to non-invasive spinal cord stimulation
- California 'rain debt' equal to average full year of precipitation
- Cancer patients lose faith in healthcare system if referred late by GP