Sunday, 12 May 2013

What Color Were Dinosaurs? Test Of Ancient Skin Sample Will Reveal Final Answer

Our books and films have long depicted dinosaurs to be some shade of green or brown- and for all we know, that might be accurate. But by testing one of the world's only well-preserved dinosaur skin samples at the Canadian Light Source (CLS) synchrotron, researchers hope to determine a more definitive answer on dinosaur skin color as well as explain how a 70-million-year-old hunk of skin has been so well preserved. 

The sample of hadrosaur skin was found close to a riverbed near Grand Prairie, Alberta, Canada in 2012. The hardosaur was a duck-billed dinosaur from the Late Cretaceous period (100-65 million years ago). 

"As we excavated the fossil, I thought that we were looking at a skin impression. Then I noticed a piece came off and I realized this is not ordinary - this is real skin. Everyone involved with the excavation was incredibly excited and we started discussing research projects right away," said University of Regina physicist Mauricio Barbi in a statement from CLS. 

Barbi said this is only the third three-dimensional dinosaur skin specimen ever found worldwide. 

"This fossil is fascinating because it can tell us so much about the life and the appearance of the dinosaurs in the area." 

The researchers my find that the hardosaur had skin of some greenish gray hue; or it could be found to appear entirely different. They will use the CLS to look at unique structures called melanosomes, cellular organelles that contain pigments that control the color of an animal's skin. 

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