A new flamboyant-sized dinosaur with flamboyant features has been discovered, used to attract colleagues or intimidate enemies.
Ubirajara jubatus, which lived about 110 million years ago, had an elaborate plumage, including a long fur mane and stiff ribbons protruding from its shoulders.
The researchers said that these shoulder ribbons were not scales, fur or feathers and are believed to be unique to the animal. Each had a small sharp ridge that ran along the middle.
The scientists excavated the specimen from two stone slabs and, using X-rays, found skeletal elements and soft tissue previously hidden – including a section of long, thick mane running down the animal’s back, which was kept almost intact. The arms were also covered with fur-like filaments up to the hands.
The dinosaur was discovered by an international team of scientists led by Professor David Martill and researcher Robert Smyth, both at the University of Portsmouth, and Professor Dino Frey at the State Museum of Natural History in Karlsruhe, Germany, who examined the fossil record. kept at the museum.
Their research has shown that the mane is controlled by the muscles, allowing it to be lifted, similar to the way a porcupine lifts its spine when it feels threatened.
Professor Martill said: “What is particularly unusual about the beast is the presence of two very long ribbons, probably stiff, on both sides of his shoulders, which were probably used for display, for partner attraction, rivalry between men or to scare. on enemies.
“We can’t prove that the specimen is a male, but given the difference between male and female birds, it seems that the specimen was male and also young, which is surprising, given that the most complex display skills are reserved for mature adult men.
“Given its flamboyance, we can imagine that the dinosaur could have dedicated itself to elaborate dances to show its display structures.”
Mr Smyth said the dinosaur’s feathers could have improved his chances of survival.
He said: “We know that a lot of dinosaurs have bony ridges, thorns and leaves that were probably used for exposure, but we don’t see them very often in live birds. In birds, the ridges are made of feathers.
“This little dinosaur offers some insight into why this might be the case.
“Bone requires a lot of energy for a body to grow and maintain, it is also heavy and can cause serious injuries if it is broken.
“Keratin – the material that forms hair, feathers and scales – is a much better display alternative for a small animal like this. Keratin is less expensive to produce a body, is also light, flexible and can be replaced regularly if damaged.
“Ubirajara is the most primitive dinosaur known to possess integumentary display structures. It represents a revolution in dinosaur communication, the effects of which we can still see today in living birds. “
Ubirajara jubatus is closely related to the European Jurassic dinosaur Compsognathus – one of the smallest dinosaurs known, which was a fast runner with a long neck and tail, strong hind limbs and small forelegs.
The study is published in the scientific journal Cretaceous research.