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April 04, 2012

FAQ: Did Tyrannosaurus Rex Have a Downy Coat of Wondrously Colorful Feathers?

Well, a fossil of a T. Rex relative has preserved what scientists say is a feathery coat.

So if the relative had feathers, it stands to reason T. Rex probably did.

The new tyrannosaur species, Yutyrannus huali, is described in Thursday's issue of the journal Nature. Its name is a blend of Latin and Mandarin, which translates to "beautiful feathered tyrant."

A team of Chinese and Canadian scientists analyzed three well-preserved fossil skeletons -- an adult and two juveniles -- recovered from a quarry in China's Liaoning province by a private fossil dealer. Most striking were remains of down-like feathers on the neck and arm. Though coverage was patchy, scientists suspected the species had feathers over much of its body.

It would have felt like touching "long, thick fur," co-author Corwin Sullivan of the Chinese Academy of Sciences said in an email. Another scientist, Thomas Holtz Jr. at the University of Maryland, compared it to the feathers of an emu.


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