UCC researcher and team make landmark dinosaur discovery

25 Jul 2014

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An illustration of Kulindadromeus zabaikalicus by Andrey Atuchin

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Dr Maria McNamara from University College Cork (UCC), and her team of researchers, have made a landmark dinosaur discovery: the first example of a plant-eating dinosaur that had both scales and feathers.

The team found remains of the plant-eating dinosaur, designated ‘Kulindadromeus zabaikalicus’ – translated to Kulinda River running dinosaur – at a fossil site in eastern Siberia.

McNamara and her colleagues in the UK and France analysed feathers from the creature, which also showed scales on its tail and shins, according to RTÉ.

This makes Kulindadromeus zabaikalicus the first example found of a herbivore dinosaur to have both feathers and scales, and adds credence to the theory that all dinosaurs may have been feathered.

The science community is in general agreement that feathered dinosaurs most likely originated in the Triassic period 220m years ago.

McNamara said this discovery is a fantastic find for science.

“These feathers are really very well preserved. We can see each filament and how they are joined together at the base, making a compound structure of six or seven filaments, each up to 15mm long."

The team has now published its findings in the scientific journal, Science, and the researchers are confident there are more interesting remains yet to be discovered in the region.

Head researcher Pascal Godefroit said, “There were lakes and there were volcanoes there, lots of volcanoes … We don’t know how big this fossil bed is, and it is likely we will find more when we go back.”

Colm Gorey is a journalist with Siliconrepublic.com

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