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What Did A T-Rex Feel Like?

Published: 7th Jun 2017

After numerous reports and findings suggesting that dinosaurs including the T-Rex had feathers, new fossil findings reveal they had scales.

Over the last two decades, fossil findings around the world have risen to the belief that the T-Rex had feathers similar to its dinosaur relatives. These findings destroyed the much-loved notion that the T-Rex was a scaly beast. However new research into the big predator suggests it actually had scales much like modern reptiles. (Published in the Biology Letters)

Photograph: Peter Larson - Fossilised skin sample.

Palaeontologists from the University of Alberta examined skin impressions from a Tyrannosaurus Rex fossil found in Baker, Montana. They then compared this to other Tyrannosaurus fossils and found a pattern emerging in its skin texture. What they found was small pebbly scales. Collecting information from patches of T-Rex skin from across the body they found that the majority of a T-Rex was not covered in feathers.

Findings from early Tyrannosaurs shows that they had feathers. So where do these new findings fit in?

In this study, it suggests that one reason the T-Rex had lost its feathers may have been because it no longer needed the insulation when it started to reach bigger sizes.

Scott Persons one of the Palaeontologists from the research suggests: “I definitely think that size had something to do with it…If you think about really, really big terrestrial mammals today, like elephants, rhinos, hippos, and cape buffaloes, although they are not hairless, they are very much reduced in the amount of hair that they do have,”

While these findings suggest that the Tyrannosaurus Rex was more traditionally reptilian in scales we cannot rule out that it didn’t have any feathered features. These findings will probably not end the long-term debate about the physical appearance of the Tyrannosaurus Rex.

You can find out more about this study by following this link: