Cretaceous dinosaur had an impressive mane and shoulder ribbons | Paleontology

A maned theropod dinosaur with elaborate filamentous structures has been identified by a research team led by paleontologists at the University of Portsmouth.

Life restoration of Ubirajara jubatus. Image credit: Bob Nicholls,

The recently discovered dinosaur species lived about 110 million years ago (haptic stage of the Cretaceous period) in what is now Brazil.

Named Ubirajara jubatus, the ancient animal was the size of a chicken with a long mane on its back.

It also had long, flat, stiff keratin ribbons, each with a small sharp ridge running down the center. His arms were covered with fur-like filaments up to his hands.

“What is particularly unusual about the beast is the presence of two very long, probably stiff ribbons on either side of its shoulders which were likely used for display, for mate attraction, male rivalry or to scare the enemy, ”said co-author Professor David Martill, a paleontologist at the University of Portsmouth’s School of the Environment, Geography and Geosciences.

“We cannot prove the specimen to be a male, but given the disparity between male and female birds, it seems likely that the specimen was a male and juveniles as well, which is surprising given that more complex exhibition skills are reserved. to mature adult males. “

“Given its appearance, we can imagine that the dinosaur may have indulged in elaborate dances to showcase its display structures.”

Ubirajara jubatusThe mane is thought to have been controlled by the muscles that allowed it to be lifted, similarly a dog raises its hair or a porcupine raises its spines when threatened.

‘Any creature with movable hair or feathers as a body cover has a great advantage in streamlining the body contour for faster hunts or escapes, but also for capturing or releasing heat,’ Professor Martill said.

“The elaborate plumage of Ubirajara jubatus it may have improved his chances of survival, ”added lead author Robert Smyth, also of the University of Portsmouth’s School of the Environment, Geography and Geosciences.

The holotype of Ubirajara jubatus preserved as a plate and against a plate.  Image credit: Smyth et al., Doi: 10.1016 / j.cretres.2020.104686.

The holotype of Ubirajara jubatus preserved as a plate and counter plate. Image credit: Smyth et al., doi: 10.1016 / j.cretres.2020.104686.

The partial fossilized skeleton of Ubirajara jubatus it was collected from the Lower Cretaceous Crat formation of northeastern Brazil.

Ubirajara jubatus it is the first non-avian dinosaur to be described from the Brazilian Crato formation, a shallow inland sea established about 110 million years ago, “said paleontologists.

“It is also the first non-avian dinosaur found in the ancient supercontinent of Gondwana with preserved skin.”

Ubirajara jubatus it is not only important for integumentary structures first present in a non-avian dinosaur, completely changing the way some dinosaurs look at the behavior, ”said co-author Dr. Hector Rivera Sylva, paleontologist at the Museo del Desierto, Mexico.

“Rather, the scientific value transcends, forming a watershed, as it is the first evidence for this group in Latin America, and one of the few reported for the Gondwana subcontinent, expanding knowledge of non-avian feathered dinosaurs for America, whose evidence is very scarce. “

The discovery is reported in an article in the journal Cretaceous research.


Robert SH Smyth et al. A Gondwana-maned theropod dinosaur with elaborate integumentary structures. Cretaceous research, published online December 13, 2002; doi: 10.1016 / j.cretres.2020.104686