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Feathered Dinosaurs

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss theories about dinosaur feathers. Which ones had them, what sorts of feathers were they and where were they found on their bodies?

In a programme first broadcast in 2017, Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the development of theories about dinosaur feathers, following discoveries of fossils which show evidence of feathers. All dinosaurs were originally thought to be related to lizards - the word 'dinosaur' was created from the Greek for 'terrible lizard' - but that now appears false. In the last century, discoveries of fossils with feathers established that at least some dinosaurs were feathered and that some of those survived the great extinctions and evolved into the birds we see today. There are still many outstanding areas for study, such as what sorts of feathers they were, where on the body they were found, what their purpose was and which dinosaurs had them.


Mike Benton
Professor of Vertebrate Palaeontology at the University of Bristol

Steve Brusatte
Reader and Chancellor's Fellow in Vertebrate Palaeontology at the University of Edinburgh


Maria McNamara
Senior Lecturer in Geology at University College, Cork

Producer: Simon Tillotson.

Available now

48 minutes

Last on

Thu 16 Apr 2020 21:30


Mike Benton at the University of Bristol

Maria McNamara at University College Cork

Steve Brusatte at the University of Edinburgh

Feathers, melanosomes, and the colour of dinosaurs - Palaeobiology Research Group

Feathered Fossils Give Scaly Dinosaurs a Makeover – National Geographic

Feathered dinosaurs – Science Daily

Do dinosaurs still live among us? – BBC iWonder

Living dinosaurs: How birds took over the world – New Scientist

How Dinosaurs Shrank and Became Birds - Scientific American

Birds: The Late Evolution of Dinosaurs – Natural History Museum

Birds Really Are Dinosaurs, Explained - Newsweek

How we finally figured out the color of dinosaur feathers – Popular Science

Amber specimen offers rare glimpse of feathered dinosaur tail – University of Bristol

Feathered Dinosaurs – Wikipedia

Maria McNamara: Preservation and palaeobiology of exceptionally preserved fossils

Fossilisation of melanosomes via sulfurization by Maria E. McNamara, Bart E. van Dongen, Nick P. Lockyer, Ian D. Bull and Patrick J. Orr (Palaeontology, 2016)

Reconstructing carotenoid-based and structural coloration in fossil skin by Maria E. McNamara, Patrick J. Orr, Stuart L. Kearns, Luis Alcalá, Pere Anadón, Enrique Peñalver (Current Biology, 2016)

The taphonomy of colour in fossil insects and feathers by Maria E. McNamara (Palaeontology, 2013)

Experimental maturation of feathers: implications for reconstructions of fossil feather colour by Maria E. McNamara, Derek E. G. Briggs, Patrick J. Orr, Daniel J. Field, Zhengrong Wang (Biology Letters, 2013)



Michael Benton, Vertebrate Palaeontology (Wiley-Blackwell, 2014)

Stephen L. Brusatte, Dinosaur Paleobiology (Wiley-Blackwell, 2012)

David E. Fastovsky and David B. Weishampel, Dinosaurs: A Concise Natural History (Cambridge University Press, 2016)

John Long, Feathered Dinosaurs: The Origin of Birds (Oxford University Press, 2009)

Darren Naish and Paul Barrett, Dinosaurs: How They Lived and Evolved (The Natural History Museum, 2016)

Mark A. Norrell, Unearthing the Dragon: The Great Feathered Dinosaur Discovery (Pi Press, 2005)

John Pickrell, Flying Dinosaurs: How Fearsome Reptiles Became Birds (Columbia University Press, 2017)



Role Contributor
Presenter Melvyn Bragg
Interviewed Guest Michael Benton
Interviewed Guest Steve Brusatte
Interviewed Guest Maria McNamara
Producer Simon Tillotson


  • Thu 26 Oct 2017 09:00
  • Thu 26 Oct 2017 21:30
  • Thu 16 Apr 2020 09:00
  • Thu 16 Apr 2020 21:30

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