Dinosaur Feathers Changed With Age
Rapid and bizarre switches suggest dinos had birds beat for plumage diversity.
Farmers in northeastern China have unearthed two roughly 125-million-year-old specimens of the dinosaur Similicaudipteryx, a member of the group called the oviraptorosaurs, which are believed to be ancestors of birds.
(See the first pictures of "true color" feathered dinosaurs.)
The species, most likely a plant-eater, was first described in 2008. It had robust jaws similar to those of other oviraptorosaurs, but with two unusually large buck teeth.
The two new fossils belong to a pigeon-size juvenile dinosaur thought to be just a year or two old and a three- to four-year-old duck-size youth.
The younger animal's fossil included short ribbonlike feathers. On its tail, each feather was just 1.6 inches (4