A “Hidden Gem” Fossil Of A Dinosaur Species That Lived During The Early Cretaceous Period Revealed That It Had Skin With Both Feathers And Reptilian Scales

Gorodenkoff - - illustrative purposes only

In 1922, the first fossil of a partially feathered dinosaur named the Psittacosaurus was discovered.

Initially, it was believed that Psittacosaurus only had feathers on its tail, but a recent discovery has revealed that the species possessed skin with both feathers and reptilian scales.

The new fossil provides more information about the evolution from scales to feathers.

The Psittacosaurus lived some time in the early Cretaceous period, between 135 and 120 million years ago, during a time when dinosaurs were just beginning to evolve into birds.

Based on the findings associated with the new fossil, the skin of Psittacosaurus had feathered areas and bald patches that were scaly.

This demonstrates how retaining reptile-like scales may have improved the function of the skin during the early stages of feather evolution.

A team of researchers used ultraviolet light to examine the uniquely preserved fossilized Psittacosaurus skin since it couldn’t be seen by the human eye.

Then, they used X-rays and infrared light to get an even closer look. The details of the study were published in the journal Nature Communications.

“The fossil is truly a hidden gem…and it remained hidden when the specimen was donated to Nanjing University in 2021. Only under UV light is the skin visible, in a striking orange-yellow glow,” Dr. Zixiao Yang, a paleontologist from the University College Cork, said.

Gorodenkoff – – illustrative purposes only

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