DID T. REX HAVE FEATHERS? Probably! A young T. rex likely had a thin coat of downy feathers, but adults would not have needed feathers to stay warm. Instead, the plumage might have been used in displays similar to those seen in some modern birds. Learn more in Dinosaurs Among Us.
Meet Dakotaraptor, the first “giant” dromaeosaur from the Hell Creek formation.
I’ve been sitting on these illustrations for months and can’t think of the last time I’ve been so excited to illustrate a new taxon. At 5.5 meters in length and with magnificently robust ulnar quill knobs, this is not only the first “giant” dromaeosaur from Hell Creek, but it is also the first dromaeosaur in this size range with indisputable evidence of feathers. And not just shaggy and sparse “protofeathers” as many skeptics purport in defense of the “half-arse” integument pattern.
No, Dakotaraptor had massive ulnar quill knobs, which meant that its arms likely supported thick, heavy feathers with a stiff central rachis. This confirms, once and for all, that feathers stage 3 and beyond existed on dromaeosaurs larger than Velociraptor and Zhenyuanlong. What was such a large dromaeosaur doing with feathers like this? There are several options which are not mutually exclusive: brooding eggs, aggressive mating and territorial displays, shielding young… but many of you will recall my particular fondness for Denver Fowler’s 2011 paper on “raptor prey restraint”, which posited a unique predatory role for robust wings on non-volant dromaeosaurs. These wings would have acted as stabilizers and balancers for a large animal as it struggled atop still-living prey, much as modern birds of prey do. Modern hawks and eagles have evolved particularly stout and powerful ankles for this purpose, which allow greater torque for the inner claw on each foot to dig into unruly prey. This inner claw is, certainly by no coincidence, by far the largest on most birds of prey.
The use of RPR by Dakotaraptor means it would have been especially appropriate when grappling similarly-sized prey, and Hell Creek has given us the perfect also-feathered match: Ornithomimus, a new feathered specimen of which has been described just days before.
There is much to be said on Dakotaraptor, from its possible synonymity with Acheroraptor to its ecological relationships with other Hell Creek carnivores, but it should come as no surprise that the role of feathers in its predatory ecology is what interests me most! I look forward to seeing what future analyses and potentially more material will bring.
I’m not interested in Jurassic World, but I assume its responsible for the recent increase in dinosaur stuff on my dash and that I am thankful for.
Including all the lovely stuff about feathery theropods, of course. But I’m wondering: I’ve seen a few images of Tyrannosaurus rex with feathers, and while I have long been thrilled by the knowledge that T. rex almost certainly had feathers, I’ve been noticing some of these feathered T. rex with small wings for arms, and I’m wondering if anyone knows how likely that is, specifically. Feathers on the arms, definitely, but with a creature that large and arms that tiny, is it safe to assume the arms would have long, flight-ready-looking feather arrangements on the arms, rather than just more fluffy down or something?
… So awesome. But yeah, I’m curious if anyone knows if there’s a good reason T. rex (or other similarly large, small-armed theropods) would have such bird-like arm feathers, as opposed to something a little more… pre-flight-looking?
Or am I misunderstanding feathers and are these kind of feathers not as flight-oriented as I assume?
To be honest I haven’t done much research on this and I’ve only seen a few images like this one; I know this interpretation of T. rex arm feathers isn’t even necessarily that common. But they’re out there. I’m… sort of being lazy and just thinking out loud to see if anyone responds. I’ll look up an answer later ^_^
This absolutely fantastic field bag was created by Angie T of Miskatonic River Valley Leatherworks and was completed just before Christmas. It is entirely hand-made of real leather and is extremely durable.
The design features Microraptor, the famous holotype with feather imprints. I am totally in love with this bag and could not be more pleased! Check out Angie’s blog (linked above) if you’re interested in the process details, or if you’re interested in commissioning a custom field bag for yourself.
North America, late evening in the Maastrichtian Age of the Late Cretaceous:
Prey is scarce since the last volcanic eruption, the storm rages on, and the tyrants of Hell Creek are hungry…
[Please don’t use or reproduce without permission, and thanks for viewing!]
Was Tyrannosaurus rex really
feathered? Read paleontologist Dr. Dave Hone’s take on the subject
here, and Brian Switek’s here.
With a certain major dinosaur-related film approaching, there has been some internet debate on whether or not feathered dinosaurs can be “scary,” or at least intimidating. Read Matthew Martyniuk’s views on feathers and fear, here, and check out Fred Wierum’s image of a rather intimidating feathered Yutyrannus here.
Happy Darwin Day!
Also, you can check out the soundtrack I made for the painting, here.
tl;dr: Most dromies probably had larger wings than they’re usually depicted with, as well as a feather fan extending the whole length of the tail as in Archaeopteryx rather than restricted to the tip as inMicroraptor. Saurian’s excellent Dakotaraptor demonstrates for us: