Feathersaurus Rex

Posted on September 16, 2005

A Times Online tells how some scientists no longer believe that dinosaurs looked sleek and reptilian. Instead the had feathers and acted more bird-like. Paleontologist Gareth Dyke even says that dinosaurs may have looked more like "giant chicks."

Most predatory dinosaurs such as tyrannosaurs and velociraptors have usually been depicted in museums, films and books as covered in a thick hide of dull brown or green skin. The impression was of a killer stripped of adornment in the name of hunting efficiency.

This week, however, a leading expert on dinosaur evolution will tell the British Association, the principal conference of British scientists, that this image is wrong.

Gareth Dyke, a palaeontologist of University College Dublin, will tell the BA Festival of Science being held in the city that most such creatures were coated with delicate feathery plumage that could even have been multi-coloured. Fossil evidence that such dinosaurs were feathered is now "irrefutable".

"The way these creatures are depicted can no longer be considered scientifically accurate," he said. "All the evidence is that they looked more like birds than reptiles. Tyrannosaurs might have resembled giant chicks."

Meat-eating chickens weighing several tons still sounds frightening but it would ruin the image we have been raised with if tyrannosaurs really looked more like chickens. What about the Allosaurus? His name is supposed to mean "terrible lizard." Should he really be known as a terrible chicken?

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