Dinosaurs with “hair”, “ribbons” confused scientists

Scientists recently discovered a species of dinosaur that had long, flat, stiff shoulder ligaments made of keratin and a mane with hair-like structures.

The ancient animal named Ubirajara jubatus was the size of a chicken and lived about 110 million years ago (Aptian stage of the Cretaceous period) in what is now Brazil. His tapes each with a small sharp ridge in the middle. His arms were covered with fur-like filaments up to his hands.

Luxquine / Wikimedia Commons

Usually inside, extraordinary outside

Inside it was common, with a skeleton resembling many small dinosaurs from the previous Jurassic period, scientists said Tuesday. Outwardly it was anything but.

“There are many other weird dinosaurs out there, but this one is unlike any other,” said David Martill, professor of paleobiology at the University of Portsmouth, England, who led the study and was published in the journal Cretaceous Research.

Ubirajara’s hair-like structures appear to be a rudimentary form of feathers called proto-feathers. This wasn’t real hair, an exclusively mammalian trait. Many dinosaurs had feathers. In fact, birds evolved from small feathered dinosaurs about 150 meters ago.

Bob Nicholls, paleocreations.com.

Unique to a dinosaur

“Probably from a distance it looked hairy rather than feather-light,” said Martill. “It probably had hair-like proto-feathers over much of its body, but they are only preserved along its neck, back, and arms. The ones on the back are very long and give it a kind of mane that is unique to dinosaurs. “

Ubirajara’s ribbon-like structures could have been used for display, possibly to attract partners or intimidate opponents, or to engage in rivalries between men, Martill added. Such representations are often made of male animals – think of the ornate tail feathers of a peacock – and lead Martill to an “educated guess” that this Ubirajara person was male.

“The ligaments that seem to come off the shoulders are like nothing I’ve seen in nature before,” said Martill.

While it is impossible to know from the fossil that arrived in a museum in the state of Ceará in the early 1990s, ScienceNews reported – Martill said that Ubirajara might have been colorful.

“I bet it was,” he added.

The first of its kind

The fossilized partial skeleton of Ubirajara Jubatus was collected from the Lower Cretaceous Crato Formation in northeastern Brazil.

Smyth et al., Doi: 10.1016 / j.cretres.2020.104686.

Ubirajara Jubatus is the first non-avian dinosaur described from the Brazilian Crato Formation, a shallow inland sea that was created about 110 million years ago, ”said the paleontologists.