A global team of scientists discovered new bird-like dinosaur in the North-East of China, in the Hebei Province. Scientists named him “Caihong juji,” Mandarin for “rainbow with the big crest.”
The fossil it left behind indicates a bony crest on its beak, and a brilliant, iridescent ruff of feathers around its neck - the earliest evidence of a colour-based display.
The international team of researchers who described the new dinosaur believe that these features may have something to do with attracting mates.
"Iridescent colouration is well known to be linked to sexual selection and signalling, and we report its earliest evidence in dinosaurs," said researcher Julia Clarke of the University of Texas Jackson School of Geosciences.
"The dinosaur may have a cute nickname in English, Rainbow, but it has serious scientific implications."
"I was shocked by its beautifully preserved feathers, even though I had seen many feathered dinosaur fossils previously," co-author Xing Xu of the Chinese Academy of Sciences told National Geographic.
While it possessed many bird-like characteristics, the researchers doubted it could actually get airborne. Its plumage could have attracted mates while also providing insulation. It had sharp teeth which helped it hung small mammals and lizards.
"The preservation of this dinosaur is incredible; we were really excited when we realised the level of detail we were able to see on the feathers". Even birds evolved from small dinosaurs that had feathers, as the end of the Jurassic Period approached.
Caihong had two types of feathers, "fuzzy" feathers and pennaceous ones, those that look like writing quills. Caihong's asymmetrical feathers were located on its tail.
'Its forelimbs were configured like wings.
Asked what someone might say upon seeing Caihong, University of Texas paleontologist Dr Julia Clarke said, '"Wow!"
Their findings were published in the journal Nature Communications.
The slab of rock where the fossils of the dinosaur Caihong juji were found (Credit: Hu, et al., 2018)
The skull of the dinosaur Caihong juji has been likened to a Velociraptor(Credit: Hu, et al., 2018)
A newly described species of dinosaur was found to have a unique combination of old and new traits(Credit: Velizar Simeonovski, The Field Museum, for UT Austin Jackson School of Geosciences)