Fossil Discovery Hints Dinos Were Warm and Fuzzy

Feathers may have arisen with the earliest dinosaurs
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 19, 2009 4:12 AM CDT
This artist's rendering released by the Chinese Academy of Geological Sciences shows how dinosaur Tianyulong confuciusi may have left based on a new fossil find in China.    (AP Photo/Chinese Academy of Geological Sciences )

(Newser) – The evolutionary history of feathers just got a whole lot fuzzier, reports the BBC. A 130-million-year-old fossil has been found in China with “protofeathers,” leading scientists to believe that one of the two main families of dinosaurs—previously thought to have had scaly hides—may in fact have had fuzzy plumage for warmth and even for colorful peacock-style displays.

"The bad news is that something we thought was neatly wrapped up is now not so neat," said one paleontologist. “We now need to rethink what the coat of the ancestral dinosaurs actually was. But the good news is that we can now look at existing evidence with new eyes—going back to old fossils and asking if there is evidence of any of these filaments.”