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T. Rex’s Feathered Cousin

May 7, 2012

Paleontologists discover a cousin of T. Rex in China – that had feathers.



An ancient feathered tyrant…I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Scientists recently discovered a relative of Tyrannosaurus rex that had feathers.  The new species is called Yutyrannus huali, which means “beautiful feathered tyrant”, and it lived 60 million years before T. Rex. At over 3000 pounds, it’s the largest feathered dinosaur discovered to date. Even so, its head and body were much smaller than T. Rex’s, according to Corwin Sullivan of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing. But if it was covered in feathers, could that mean that T. rex was feathered too?

CORWIN SULLIVAN – (Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing):

Our find perhaps makes it a little more likely that Tyrannosaurus did have some kind of feathering, in which case the mental image that people have of it would really need to change.


But Sullivan explains that Tyrannosaurus lived in a warmer climate than Yutyrannus, and may not have needed feathers for insulation. He adds that the feathers could also have been used for camouflage or for attracting a mate. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.

Artist's reconstruction of a group of Yutyrranus huali with feathers. (Brian Choo )