Scientists say they have identified an unusual new chicken-sized dinosaur with flame features never seen before in the fossil record.
The new species, Ubirajara jubatus, lived about 110 million years ago in the area known as northeastern Brazil and placed a mane of long fur down its back and tight ribbons – possibly made of keratin – going back and forth from the shoulders, according to a study published in the journal Cretaceous Research.
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Researchers suggest that the creature’s ribbon-like features may have been used to lure companions or resist enemies, such as peacock feathers.
“What is particularly unusual about the beast is the presence of two very long, perhaps stiff ribbons on each side of the shoulders that may have been used for display, to attract a mate, interpersonal conflict or to intimidate the enemy, ”said David Martill, a professor at Portsmouth University and author of the paper, said.
“We can’t confirm that the sample is male, but given the difference between male and female birds, it appears that the sample was male, and also young, which is which is surprising given that the most complex display capabilities are reserved for adult male males, ”Martille said. “Given its deliciousness, we can imagine that the dinosaur may have engaged in complex dance to showcase its display structures. ”
The fossil was found in two stone slabs, and researchers used X-rays to find previously hidden skeletal elements and soft material, allowing scientists to build a clear picture of the animal’s traits.
A piece of the long, thick cairn that ran down the creature’s back was preserved almost as it was. The study found that the dinosaur’s mane appeared to be under the control of a muscle that allowed it to pick up, similar to how a porcupine lifts its spikes when threatened. The animal’s arms were also covered in fur-like filaments down to its hands.
Researchers say Ubirajara jubatus is also the first non-avian dinosaur found in South America with feathers.
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