About 110 million years ago on the banks of an ancient lagoon in what is now northeastern Brazil, two-legged, chicken-shaped Cretaceous period dinosaurs made a living hunting insect and perhaps small vertebrates such as frogs and lizards.
On Tuesday, scientists said that inside, it was normal, with a skeleton similar to many smaller dinosaurs from the pre-Jurassic period. On the outside, it was anything but.
This dinosaur is called Ubirajara jubatus, Has kept a mane of hair-like structures, while claiming two unique, hard, ribbon-like features possibly made of keratin – the same substance that makes up hair and nails – bulging from its shoulders.
“There are plenty of other strange dinosaurs,” David Martill, a paleontology expert at the University of Portsmouth, who helped lead the study, published in the journal Cretaceous Research, but it is unlike any of them.
The hair-like structures of ubirjara appear to be a rudimentary form of feathers called protofar. This was not real hair, especially a mammalian trait. Many dinosaurs had wings. In fact, birds evolved from small winged dinosaurs about 150 years ago.
“From a distance it looked hairy rather than feathery,” Martill said. “It probably had protophers like hair on its body, but they are preserved only with its neck, back and arms. The ones on its back are very long and give it a type of mane that is unique to dinosaurs. “
The ribbon-like structures of ubirajara may have been used for display, possibly for mates or in inter-male rivalries. Such performances are often performed by male animals – think of the elaborate tail feathers of a peacock – leading Martill to make an “educated guess” that this Ubirajara person was a male.
“Ribbons coming from the shoulders are nothing like I’ve never seen before,” Martill said.
Although it is impossible to know from the fossil – which arrived in a museum in the Serra state in the early 1990s, ScienceNews reported – Martill said that Ubirajara could be colored.
He said, “I’m sure it was.”
Parent employees contributed to this report