A recent discovery announced by scientists involves a dinosaur that is crow-sized and resembles a bird with feathers that house numerous colors. The remains of this dinosaur from the northeastern section of China have been estimated to be 161 million years old that thrived in the Jurassic Period.
The dinosaur was named ‘Caihong’ which is the Mandarin word used for a rainbow. The fossils of this pre-historic bird resembling dinosaur were excavated near the Hebei Province which pointed to the fact that the creature carried shinning feathers, especially around its head, chest, and neck. The fossilized remains of this creature were found in an intact condition. The dinosaur housed feathers with colors that glistened in light with changing colors similar to that of a hummingbird.
Chad Eliason, evolutionary biologist of the Field Museum present in Chicago stated that this particular discovery suggests that the Jurassic World was even more colorful than previously speculated. The findings of this striking new discovery were jotted down in the journal named “Nature Communications”.
The scientists discovered the presence of organelles termed as melanosomes using strong microscopes which is responsible for providing color to the feathers. The Caihong had pancake-shaped melanosomes which determined the color of the feathers. This feature is pretty similar to the one in hummingbirds.
Most of the feathers on the body of Caihong was dark colored. However, the neck and head of the dinosaur was covered with iridescent feathers that resembled ribbons. The dinosaur showed numerous bird-like characteristics but the researchers doubt the possibility of the presence of ability to fly. It was mostly to attract any potential mates while providing insulation from the cold atmosphere.
The Caihong resembled the Velociraptor when it comes to sharp teeth and skull being a two-legged creature that hunted in the wild. The dinosaur had crests just above its eyes that could have been bony eyebrows. Numerous dinosaurs flaunted feathers, most of which evolved into birds as the Jurassic period ended. The Caihong had feathers that looked similar to the quills used for writing. It has been tagged as the earliest known dinosaur with such feathers that are asymmetrical in nature. This trait helps birds steer while flying. The Caihong flaunted feathers on its tails which means the avian variety used tail feathers for aerodynamic locomotion instead of arm feathers.
Pre-historic birds that existed about 150-million-years ago like the Archaeopteryx had similar traits. The scientific name of the dinosaur is “Caihong juji” which roughly translates to “big crested rainbow”.