The Color of Dinosaurs

Scientists thought they'd never know what colors the dinosaurs were, since fossils are rock-colored and even recently-discovered mummified scraps of the animals are faded. Jakob Vinther, a graduate student at Yale, was researching fossil feathers when he discovered that melanin granules survived in their original shapes and patterns, which can be compared with existing feathers to determine their original color.
Perhaps the most surprising and most exciting application of this research is that it may allow us to predict the colors of many dinosaurs.

“These include many of our most well loved dinosaurs,” says Prum. “Like velociraptor, the dinosaur that chased the kids around the kitchen in Jurassic Park, was actually fully plumaged.”

While these dinosaur feathers were not used for flight until the appearance of the transitional species Archaeopteryx, the first known bird, they were probably useful for warmth. Prum says we could even learn more about the color of one of the most famous dinosaurs of all, Tyrannosaurus rex.

“In the classic mural The Age of Reptiles in the Yale Peabody museum, they depicted T-rex, which is one of the iconic, huge, bipedal, meat-eating dinosaurs,” he says. “Recent fossil discoveries have shown that the closest relative of these huge tyrannosaurids actually had tiny skin appendages or fossil feathers—’dino-fuzz.’

http://www.sciencentral.com/video/2008/08/12/fossil-colors/ (with video) -via Metafilter

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