Tiny Dinosaur May Have Dazzled Mates with Rainbow Ruff, Bony Crest

The fossil of the small dinosaur was found in the northern region of the Hebei Province in north east China. The animal has a skull like a Velociraptor but had colourful feathers much like a hummingbird

The colours that shimmered and shifted in the light come from specialist cells that are also found in hummingbirds.

While Caihong is a feathered dinosaur that shares many characteristics with modern birds, Dunham reports that researchers are uncertain if it was capable of getting airborne. These miniscule organelles are responsible for pigmentation, and their shape determines color.

The vibrantly coloured feathers are believed to be over the head, neck and chest.

An worldwide team led by researchers from Shenyang Normal University in China and the University of Texas at Austin studied the dino fossil, which was discovered by a Chinese farmer in 2014.

Xu said, "I was shocked by its beautifully preserved feathers, even though I had seen many feathered dinosaur fossils previously".

The feathers on this fossil stand out because they preserve the pigment-storing parts of cells, called melanosomes.

Found in Hebei Province, the dinosaur discovery "suggests a more colorful Jurassic World than we previously imagined", according to evolutionary biologist Chad Eliason of the Field Museum in Chicago, one of the researchers in the study.

It's hard to tell for certain what colour the feathers were, but the fossil was so detailed that it preserved the shape of the melanosomes, the organelles inside cells responsible for pigmentation.

The major section of the body is covered with black feathers while its head and neck gets a colourful rainbow touch.

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While the other dinosaurs have bird-like, triangular skulls and long forearm bones in comparison to birds today, Caihong had a long and narrow skull, and unlike many of these other dinosaurs, its short forelimbs show proportions more akin to modern birds.

Paleontologist Dongyu Hu, the lead author of the study, said that the newly found dinosaur had some mix of ancient and modern features which also include iridescent plumage found on some living birds.

The Caihong juji was a two-legged predator with sharp teeth and a skull shape that resembles a Velociraptor.

All those colors are long gone to the human eye, but because feathers owe their color to microscopic anatomy, striking evidence of the dinosaur's plumage is still there to be found.

The Caihong was discovered in the form of a almost complete fossil discovered in China's Hebei Province. That was a complete skeleton of Caihong juji. The dinosaur's asymmetrical feathers were on its tail - as opposed to on the wingtips - and were primarily used to keep warm, the researchers found.

Caihong's were on its tail, not on it's arm feathers - suggesting that the tail was first utilised for flight.

The colorful display of feathers common among hummingbirds has roots in a bird-like Chinese dinosaur from 161 million years ago, a new study finds.

"This combination of traits is unusual", Clarke says.

From here, the researchers are aiming to work out how Caihong developed such a unique look, something they describe as evidence of mosaic evolution, where distinct traits evolve independently from one another. The full name is Caihong juji, meaning "rainbow with a big crest".

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