Dinosaurs may have had feathers
A FEARSOME plumage-covered tyrannosaurus rex may be hard to imagine but an Irish researcher says all dinosaurs could have been feathered in light of the discovery of a new species.
Dr Maria McNamara has been studying a primitive plant-eating dinosaur, named kulindadromeus zabaikalicus, (inset) found in eastern Siberia.
The creature has complex, compound feathers on its arms and legs.
"Up until now the dinosaurs that scientists have conclusively found to have had feathers have all been meat-eaters from a much later period, therefore it was not as surprising that they were related to birds," the University College Cork academic said.
Dr McNamara says the recently-found dinosaur comes from "a much more primitive period and was plant-eating proving that all dinosaurs had feathers or the ability to produce feathers in their DNA".
She studied the feathers for a year along with colleagues in the UK and France who specialise in the development of feathers and scales in modern reptiles and birds.
Dr McNamara said: "There have been heated debates about the possibility that all dinosaurs could have had feathers but now this proves that to a much greater extent."
The 2010 find of six skulls and several hundred partial skeletons dates to the middle Jurassic period, about 169-144 million years ago.