Saturday, March 10, 2012

Microraptor Had Black, Iridescent Feathers

A four-winged, feathered dinosaur that was the size of a pigeon and lived approximately 130 million years ago had black feathers with an iridescent sheen, a team of US and Chinese researchers has revealed.

In their study, scientists from the Beijing Museum of Natural History, Peking University, the University of Texas at Austin, the University of Akron, and the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) analyzed a specimen of the Microraptor, a non-avian dinosaur that in 2003 became the first four-winged dinosaur ever discovered.

According to a Thursday press release from the University of Texas, the researchers compared the patterns of pigment-containing organelles known as melanosomes from a Microraptor fossil with those found in the birds of today. The AMNH, in a separate statement, said that they compared the shape and density of the fossil against a melanosome database of modern birds at the Beijing Museum of Natural History.

Their research, the museum said, revealed that the Microraptor was “completely black with a glossy, weakly iridescent blue sheen” which university representatives compared to “the feathers of a crow.” The discovery makes the Microraptor the earliest known species to have iridescent color in its feathers.

Read more here.

No comments: