Last updated at 14:31 BST, Friday, 25 July 2014

'Fluffy' dinosaurs were widespread

Summary

25 July 2014

The majority of dinosaurs were covered with feathers or had the potential to grow feathers. A discovery of 150 million year-old fossils in Siberia indicates that feathers were more widespread among dinosaurs than previously thought. The details have been published in the Journal Science.

Reporter:

Pallab Ghosh

A dinosaur skeleton

What did dinosaurs really look like?

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The creature was about a metre long with a short snout, long hind legs, short arms and five strong fingers. Until now, fossilised evidence of feathery dinosaurs has come from China, and from a meat-eating group called theropods.

The latest discovery – in Russia – is from a completely separate group of plant-eating dinosaurs called ornithischians.

The new find takes the origin of feathers millions of years further back in time than had previously been thought. And, according to the researchers, completely changed ideas about how dinosaurs evolved.

Instead of thinking of them as dry, scary scaly creatures, a lot of species, especially when very young, actually had a fluffy, downy covering like feathers on a chick, they say. And did so when dinosaurs first emerged.

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Vocabulary

snout

nose and mouth of an animal

hind

the back part of an animal's body

evidence

information which shows something is true

evolved

changed gradually over time

scaly

covered in hard, flat pieces of skin

downy

covered with soft feathers or hair

emerged

appeared

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