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2012-04-05. Bus-Size Dinosaurs, Fuzzy as Chicks

posted Apr 5, 2012, 4:27 AM by Alan Gould
| by John Noble Wilford, The New York Times. An article relevant to GSS Life and Climate chapter 9. Excerpt: Fossils discovered in northeastern China of a giant, previously unrecognized dinosaur show that it is the largest known feathered animal, living or extinct, scientists report. …The adult was at least 30 feet long and weighed a ton and a half, …. The two juveniles were a mere half ton each. The new species was a distant relative of Tyrannosaurus rex …. Xing Xu of the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology in Beijing, who was the lead author of the paper, said …that it was “possible that feathers were much more widespread, at least among meat-eating dinosaurs, than most scientists would have guessed even a few years ago.” Dr. Xu said the feathers were simple filaments, more like the fuzzy down of a modern baby chick than the stiff plumes of an adult bird. Such insubstantial feathers, not to mention the animal’s huge size, would have made flight impossible. The feathers’ most important function was probably as insulation. The species has been named Yutyrannus huali, which means “beautiful feathered tyrant” in a combination of Latin and Mandarin. Mark A. Norell, a curator of paleontology at the American Museum of Natural History in Manhattan, who had no part in the research, said the findings were significant because they swept aside a longstanding argument that perhaps dinosaurs had feathers only when they were small and shed them as they grew…. Read the full article: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/05/science/dinosaur-dig-in-china-turns-up-largest-known-feathered-animal.html?_r=1&nl=todaysheadlines&emc=edit_th_20120405