12 Junio 2017 11:22
Turns out the king of the dinosaurs didn't sport a fancy feather coat after all
The terrifying image we have of tyrannosaurus rex was almost ruined after a study posited that most dinosaurs probably had feathers. And the fact is that a gigantic chicken – even one capable of pulverising bones with its teeth – just doesn't generate the same respect.
After analysing remains preserved in the Houston Museum of Natural Sciences of the abdomen, chest, pelvis, neck and tail skin of T. rex, and of its four closest relatives (Albertosaurus, Daspletosaurus, Gorgosaurus and Tarbosaurus), a new study affirms that T. rex did not have feathers. Its skin was actually scaly.
There are a number of hypotheses for why T. rex was not covered in feathers, unlike its earlier relatives. But 'probably the sexiest option is gigantism' Bell said. One of T. rex's cousins, Dilong, was much smaller – roughly one and half metres, about the size of a big dog. T. Rex's huge size meant it was capable of storing heat without the need for plumage. In fact, a feathery coat would probably have suffocated it.
What scientists cannot say for certain is if T. rex was totally naked or if it had some light feathering across the back or spinal column. We hope so: some soft, silky hair along the back is always nice.