VIDEO EXCLUSIVE: Irish researcher key to discovery of new 'feathered' dinosaur

An Irish researcher is a key member of an international team of experts who have discovered the first ever example of a primitive plant-eating dinosaur with feathers and scales.

The feathers were studied by UCC’s Dr. Maria McNamara along with academics from both the UK and France.

Previously it was believed that only advanced flesh-eating dinosaurs were known to have feathers but this ground breaking discovery suggests that all dinosaurs could have had feathers.

Dr McNamara is a palaeontologist in the School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences at UCC.

"These feathers are really very well preserved” said Dr McNamara.

“We can see each filament and how they are joined together at the base, making a compound structure of six or seven filaments, each up to 15 mm long."

The discovery is also the subject of a video filmed and edited by UCC's Stephen Bean of UCC and which is featured here for the first time. 

The new dinosaur, which has been named, Kulindadromeus zabaikalicus, comes from the Kulinda fossil site in eastern Siberia.

Kulindadromeus is shown to have scales on its tail and shins as well as short bristles on its head and back.

The most astonishing discovery for the academics involved in this discovery are the complex compound feathers on its arms and legs.

The discovery was published in an international academic journal, Science today.

Dr Pascal Godeforit, lead author from the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural History in Brussels said "I was really amazed when I saw this.

“We knew that some of the plant-eating ornithischian dinosaurs had simple bristles, and we couldn’t be sure whether these were the same kinds of structures as bird and theropod feathers.”

The Kulinda site was found in 2010 by Sofia Sinitsa and a team from the Institute of Natural Resources, Ecology and Cryology SB RAS in Chita, Russia.

Kulindadromeus was a small herbivore, only about 1 meter in length. It has long hind legs and short arms with five fingers on each hand. Its snout was short and its teeth show clear adaptations to plant eating.

Dr Godeforit added “Our new find clinches it: all dinosaurs had feathers or at least the potential to sprout feathers”

 



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