How do we know what color dinosaurs were? - Len Bloch
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Feathered dinosaurs have played an important role in the history of science. The first feathered dinosaur ever discovered was called Archaeopteryx (which means 'ancient bird'). Archaeopteryx was discovered in 1860, just two years after Darwin published On the Origin of Species, and its discovery was hailed as a stunning confirmation of Darwin's theory. At the time, dinosaurs were considered a kind of reptile, so Archaeopteryx was considered a transitional form between reptiles and birds. Since then over one hundred bird-like dinosaurs have been discovered, and scientists consider both Archaeopteryx and microraptor to be members of a large group of bird-like dinosaurs.
In more recent years, a number of dinosaur feathers have been discovered, mainly in China. Almost all of these feathers have been found on a particular kind of two-legged dinosaur known as coeleurosaurian theropods. In addition to Microraptor and Archaeopteryx, this group contains two very famous dinosaurs– Velociraptor and Tyranosaurus rex. Naturally, scientists wonder whether Velociraptor or Tyranoaurus had feathers. So far, no fossilized feathers have been found for either of these large dinosaurs, but there are good reasons to suspect that someday such feathers may be found. In fact, small bumps found on the bones in Velociraptor's arm bones suggest they may have had very large and powerful feathers. Even if these large dinosaurs had feathers, given their weight, it is extremely unlikely that they could have flown. Still, feathers are used for lots of things besides flight. They keep birds warm, help them camouflage, and are often used in courtship displays. Given all these uses, its not surprising that feathers come in so many different colors.
Interested in learning more about feathers? Watch the TED Ed lesson: How did feathers evolve? Carl Zimmer.
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