A meat-eating dinosaur that lived about 125 million years ago was decked out with orange and white rings running along the length of its tail, according to a study that has recognized the colour of dinosaurs for the first time.
Fossilised bristles ancient feathers on the dinosaur's tail hold microscopic structures or "organelles" that would have contained the pigments which produced the colored patterns on the tail, scientists have exposed.
The researchers also found proof of bloom in the fossilized feathers of a bird that lived at about the same time as the dinosaur, which had the same type of pigment-containing structures in its feathers. Both finds propose that feathers could have arisen as a way of displaying colors rather than as a way of insulating the body beside heat loss, or as an aid to the progress of gliding and powered flight, the scientists said.
It's the first time anybody has had proof of original color in a [fossilized] feather. We can't say what all the colors were as there are other coloring agents in feathers which may not be in the fossils, said Professor Mike Benton of Bristol University.
The study was agreed out with Chinese scientists from the Institute of Vertebrate Palaeontology and Palaeoanthropology in Beijing on fossils of the carnivorous therapod dinosaur Sinosautropteryx, which had orange and white rings on its tail, and the olden bird Confuciusornis, which was found to have patches of white, black and orange-brown coloring. The fossils were established in north-eastern China.