Now I remember hearing a while back that dinosaurs actually had feathers, but I was never sure whether it was a true scientific discovery or just a theory. Turns out that with a modicum of research I could have found that yes, many dinosaurs did have proto-feathers: a prequel to modern bird feathers. While some dinosaurs that are less related to birds (such as the Triceratops) merely had quills or bristles, others (such as the Velociraptor or even Tyrannosaurus Rex) sported actual, feathery plumage.
They can even figure out the colour of the feather by relating its fossilised remains with that of modern birds. Same as melanin is responsible for human skin colour, melanosomes are responsible for the pigment in feathers. These organelles are preserved by the fossilisation process to such a degree that rough colours can be determined. The Sinosauropteryx was the first dinosaur reported to have feathers, and also the first to be represented in true colour because of this research.
Our understanding has definitely evolved since the good ol’ days of the Walking with Dinosaurs video box set. Though considering it was released in 1999, the science and CGI are both quite impressive.
What made me suddenly answer my personal question regarding dinosaurs and their feathers? A dinosaur joke from Reddit of course! This was pointed out to me by my boyfriend, so all credit to him!
I can’t help myself.