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Dinosaurs show their true colours

world Updated: Jan 29, 2010 00:31 IST
Ian Sample

Scientists have recreated the colourful plumage of some of the earliest dinosaurs to grow feathers in research that shines fresh light on the evolution of the beasts.

The flesh-eating Sinosauropteryx, which lived 125 million years ago, sported a mohican-style crest on its head and a racoon-like tail marked with alternating russet and white stripes, researchers say.

Paleontologists reconstructed the hues of the dinosaur’s coat after discovering pigments preserved in fossilised remains of the creatures. It is the first time fossil hunters have known the true colours of a dinosaur.

Scientists at Bristol University and the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing analysed fossils of Sinosauropteryx unearthed in the Jehol rock beds in northeast China. The rocks have been dated to between 131 million and 120 million years old.