Oops: T-rex Didn't Have Feathers After All

Quite a few years ago, paleontologists discovered that dinosaurs were the ancient ancestors of birds, and since then, a few dinosaur fossils have been found with evidence of feathers, including two tyrannosauroids that predated T. rex. That led us to picture Tyrannosaurus rex and other dinos as feathered reptiles. Now, a new study by Phil R. Bell of Australia's University of New England says that T. rex had scales.

Bell and his colleagues examined skin from T. rex and four relatives from fairly late in tyrannosaur history: Albertosaurus, Daspletosaurus, Gorgosaurus and Tarbosaurus. Tyrannosaur skin is rare, Bell said, in part because paleontologists historically favored smashing through skin to get to bones.

From these skin patches, representing the tyrannosaur abdomen, chest, pelvis, neck and tail, the researchers found nothing but scales. If feathers existed, they did so only along the animals' back or spines.

“This doesn't rule out feathers on even the biggest tyrannosaurs,” said University of London paleontologist David Hone, who was not involved in the research, “but does suggest they lacked a full coat of feathers.”

That's good news for the producers of Jurassic Park. Read more about the study at The Washington Post.

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