Ancient Feathers Add Some Color to Dinosaurs

Scientists thrilled with trove found in Canada from 70M years ago
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 15, 2011 7:19 PM CDT
Ancient Feathers Add Some Color to Dinosaurs
This undated handout photo provided by the journal Science shows clumped feather barbs.   (AP Photo/Science)

Dinosaurs just got a little more colorful. A batch of prehistoric feathers found in western Canada from about 70 million years ago suggests that feathers on dinosaurs and early birds were more diverse and complex than thought, reports the Los Angeles Times. "Instead of scaly animals portrayed as usually drab creatures, we have solid evidence for a fluffy colored past," Mark Norell of the American Museum of Natural History in New York tells the AP.

The feathers and filaments, found preserved in amber, "display a wide range of pigmentation" and offer "novel insights into feather formation," says lead researcher Ryan McKeller of the University of Alberta. He and his team published their findings in Science, notes the New York Times. It's a "pretty significant find," writes Hans Villarica at the Atlantic (which also has a slide show and much background). "It supports a model for the evolution of feathers that has previously relied on compression fossils that are difficult to interpret and have been hotly debated." (More feathers stories.)

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