One more thing…

I’ve seen a bunch of different dinosaur pictures over the years, all of them highly speculative when it comes to colour; the colouration and look of dinosaurs has generally been in the hands of artists, not scientists, because you can’t figure those things out from bones or even skin and feather impressions. But not any more, or at least not for Sinosauropteryx.

Clever, clever¬† scientists at Bristol University, led by Mike Benton and working with Chinese palaeontologists, have used electron microscopes to find imprints of the melanosomes that carry pigment in hair and feather cells, and by doing so have deduced that Sinosauropteryx – a small theropod in the Compsognathis family, and the earliest dinosaur known to have feathers –¬† had a “russet” mohawk. (I’m reminded of our old friend Amargasaurus at Melbourne Museum, though its “mohawk” was made of bony spines, not feathers.) Just as importantly, the presence of melanosomes also puts to bed the debate over whether the structures are really feathers: they are.

I wonder now if modern punks will dye their hair in authentic shades from the Cretaceous, or if cosmetics manufacturers will see fit to release “theropod vermillion” rouge or lip gloss? The possibilities are without number…