Scientists have discovered a new species of dinosaur, the largest-ever feathered one, in Liaoning Province.
A statement released by the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology under the Chinese Academy of Sciences yesterday said that the new species is a close relative of the Tyrannosaurus rex.
Its name “Yutyrannus huali” is a combination of Latin and Chinese and means “beautifully feathered tyrant.”
this dinosaur fossils previously discovered in the province have indicated that some small dinosaurs had bird-like feathers, whereas three fossil specimens of the new tyrannosauroid from the same region show that at least one much larger dinosaur had a feathery coat as well.
Chinese and Canadian scientists also published the new discovery in this week’s issue of the journal Nature.
The Yutyrannus is believed to have lived during the Early Cretaceous period around 125 million years ago.
“The feathers of Yutyrannus were simple filaments,” said Professor Xu Xing, research fellow at the institute and the lead author of the study. “They were more like the fuzzy down of a modern baby chick.”
The researchers estimate that an adult Yutyrannus would have been about 9 meters long and weighed about 1,400 kilograms. This makes it considerably smaller than the Tyrannosaurus rex, but some 40 times heavier than the largest previously-known feathered dinosaur, the statement said.
The large size of Yutyrannus and the downy structure of its feathers would have made flight impossible, the statement said, but the feathers may have had another important function.
“Yutyrannus dramatically increases the size range of dinosaurs for which we have definite evidence of feathers,” Xu said. “It’s possible that feathers were much more widespread, at least among the meat-eating dinosaurs, than most scientists would have guessed.”