161-million-year-old ‘rainbow’ dinosaur discovered

An international team of scientists has determined that a rainbow-colored, iridescent dinosaur roamed the earth about 160 million years ago. 

The remains of the luminous, feathered prehistoric creature were discovered in northeastern China and said to be remarkably well-preserved.

In what’s described as a rare occurrence, the fossil even included remnants of feathers. 

“When the scientists examined the feathers under powerful microscopes, they could see the imprints of melanosomes, the parts of cells that contain pigment,” according to a release from the Field Museum. “For the most part, the pigment that was once present was long gone, but the physical structure of the melanosomes remained. As it turns out, that was enough for scientists to be able to tell what color the feathers were.”

The closest modern-day feather match was determined to be a hummingbird, and the team suggests the dinosaur’s plumage could have been an early version of the peacock’s tail. 

The creature is also described as being small and having “a velociraptor-type skull on the body of [a] very avian, fully feathered, fluffy kind of form.” 

Ancient dinosaur birds and bird ancestors
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Ancient dinosaur birds and bird ancestors

An Archaeopteryx on a log above a stream.

(Daniel Eskridge/Stocktrek via Getty)

An Archaeopteryx stalks a dragonfly on a rock.

(Stocktrek/Getty Images)

Undated National Academy of Sciences handout of a Reconstruction of the flying dinosaur, Microraptor, showing its "biplane" design.

Primeval time: a Brontornis Burmeisteri (large bird) fighting with a Hadrosaur

(Getty Images)

Elephant Bird (Aepyornis) walking on beach, illustration (Photo by De Agostini Picture Library/De Agostini/Getty Images)

Archaeopteryx dinosaur on white background with drop shadow.

(Leonello Calvetti/Stocktrek via Getty)

LONDON - JANUARY 22: This handout image, showing an artist's interpretation of the winged dinosaur, Microraptor Gui, was published in the Journal Nature on January 22, 2003 in London, England. Microraptor Gui was discovered by the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology in Beijing. Scientist believe the four-winged dinosaur, measuring around one meter (red and black bar at bottom left represents five cm) lived approximately 130-million years ago and would have flown in the same way a flying squirrel does today. (Photo by Journal Nature/Portia Sloan/Getty Images)
circa 1890: A Pterodactyl on the hunt above a sea full of predators. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

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