Chinese paleontologists discover large feathered dinosaur

April 6th, 2012 - 2:43 am ICT by BNO News  

Chinese paleontologists discover large feathered dinosaur
BEIJING, CHINA (BNO NEWS) — Paleontologists in northeastern China have discovered fossils of a large feathered dinosaur, disproving a widely believed theory that large dinosaurs were featherless, according to research published in the journal Nature on Thursday.

The team of paleontologists said it discovered three nearly complete skeletons of the feathered dinosaur, named Yutyrannus huali, in the Chinese province of Liaoning. The fossils date back to the Middle-Upper Jurassic and Lower Cretaceous periods, between 161 and 100 million years ago.

Yutyrannus huali, which means ‘beautiful feathered tyrant’ in a combination of Latin and Mandarin, is a gigantic new basal tyrannosauroid which was at least 30 feet (9.1 meters) tall and weighed 1.5 ton (3,000 pounds). It is a distant relative of Tyrannosaurus rex, the mighty predator which is perhaps best known from the 1993 film ‘Jurassic Park’.

But unlike other large dinosaurs, Yutyrannus huali had long filamentous feathers, disproving a previously widely believed theory that large dinosaurs were featherless because they had difficulty controlling their body temperature. “[The discovery provides] direct evidence for the presence of extensively feathered gigantic dinosaurs and offering new insights into early feather evolution,” Nature said in its article.

Yutyrannus huali shares some features, particularly of the cranium, with derived tyrannosauroids but is similar to other basal tyrannosauroids in possessing a three-fingered manus and a typical theropod pes. The dinosaur is about 40 times the height of Beipiaosaurus, the largest previously known feathered dinosaur.

In March, scientists at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History in Ohio announced they discovered two new plant-eating horned dinosaurs which lived in the Late Cretaceous period between 75 to 83 million years ago. Paleontologists said the discovery of the dinosaurs, Unescopceratops koppelhusae and Gryphoceratops morrisoni, would fill important gaps in the evolutionary history of small-bodied horned dinosaurs.

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