Researchers have discovered that a two-legged Cretaceous dinosaur survived by hunting insects and perhaps small vertebrates, such as frogs and lizards, about 110 million years ago, along the shores of an ancient lagoon in Cretaceous. which is now northeastern Brazil.
Inside, it was common, with a skeleton similar to many small dinosaurs from the previous Jurassic period, scientists said on Tuesday.
However, on the outside it was different.
This dinosaur, called Ubirajara jubatus, has a mane of hair-like structures, while boasting two completely unique, rigid, ribbon-like features, probably made of keratin – the same substance that forms hair and nails – that comes out of the shoulders.
Ubirajara hair-like structures appear to be a rudimentary form of feathers called protopenes. It was not a hair in itself, a feature exclusively of a mammal. Many dinosaurs had feathers. In fact, birds evolved from small-feathered dinosaurs about 150 million years ago.
Scientists said it most likely had hair-like protophenes on a large part of its body, but they are only kept along the 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 ribbon-like structures could have been used for display, possibly to attract colleagues or to intimidate opponents or to rival men. Such displays are often made by male animals – think of the elaborate tail feathers of a peacock – leading Martill to make a “polite assumption” that this Ubirajara individual was a man.
Although it is impossible to know from the fossil, the researchers said that Ubirajara could have been colored.