Beautiful Feathered Tyrant: One-Ton Feathered T. Rex Cousin Found in China

Posted on April 5, 2012

Yutyrannus Group

Three well preserved fossils of a new feathered tyrannosauroid have been discovered in northeastern China. The name of the dinosaur, Yutyrannus huali, means "beautiful feathered tyrant." Beautiful is not a word most people would use to describe this creature, but feathered and tyrant are fitting. The three specimens were collected from a single quarry in Cretaceous beds in Liaoning Province.

Yutyrannus Drawing

Researchers estimate that Yutyrannus was 9 meters (30 feet) long and weighed 1400 kg (3,086 pounds). Artist's impressions of a group of Yutyrannus and an individual Yutyrannus can be pictured above. A skull fossil of Yutyrannus is pictured below.

Yutyrannus Skull

The researchers say the downy features of Yutyrannus would not have helped the enormous creature fly, but they could have provided insulation.

Dr Corwin Sullivan, a Canadian palaeontologist involved in the study, says, "The idea that primitive feathers could have been for insulation rather than flight has been around for a long time. However, large-bodied animals typically can retain heat quite easily, and actually have more of a potential problem with overheating. That makes Yutyrannus, which is large and downright shaggy, a bit of a surprise."

The newly discovered dinosaur is described by Chinese and Canadian scientists here the journal Nature.

Image: Drawings: Dr. Brian Choo, Skull photo: Mr. Zang Hailong/Chinese Academy of Sciences

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