A dinosaur with “hair” and “ribbons” leaves researchers intrigued, Science News

Researchers found that a chicken-sized two-legged Cretaceous dinosaur lived hunting for insects and possibly small vertebrates such as frogs and lizards about 110 million years ago along the banks of an ancient lagoon in present-day northern Brazil -Oriental.

Inside, it was normal, with a skeleton similar to many small dinosaurs from the earlier Jurassic period, scientists said Tuesday.

However it was different on the outside.

This dinosaur, named Ubirajara jubatus, possessed a mane of hair-like structures while also boasting two absolutely unique, rigid, ribbon-shaped features likely made of keratin – the same substance that makes up hair and nails – protruding from its shoulders. .

Ubirajara’s hair-like structures appear to be a rudimentary form of feathers called protofeather. It was not real hair, a characteristic exclusively of mammals. Many dinosaurs had feathers. In fact, birds evolved from small feathered dinosaurs around 150 million years ago.

Scientists said he most likely had hair-like bumps on much of his body, but they are only preserved along his neck, back and arms. The ones on the back are very long and give it a sort of mane unique to dinosaurs.

Ubirajara’s ribbon-like structures may have been used for display, perhaps to attract mates or intimidate opponents or in male rivalry. Such displays are often done by male animals – think of the elaborate tail feathers of a peacock – leading Martill to make a “plausible guess” that this Ubirajara individual was male.

Although it’s impossible to know from the fossil, the researchers said Ubirajara may have been colored.