The dreaded Tyrannosaurus rex most likely had scaly skin despite its ancestors having feathers, scientists said today, restoring its image of a giant carnivore covered in hard armour-like skin. Recent studies have found evidence for feathers in ancestors of T rex, and suggested that the giant predator may itself have sported bird-like plumage rather than reptilian scales.
Now, researchers, including those from University of New England in Australia, have analysed fossil evidence that suggests T rex had scales much like modern reptiles rather than feathers or fluff. The team investigated skin impressions from a T rex skeleton known as Wyrex, unearthed in Montana in the US.
They also looked at its relatives that roamed during the late Cretaceous period (which extended from 99 million to 65.5 million years ago) in Asia and other parts of North America, including Albertosaurus and Gorgosaurus, ‘BBC News’ reported. Skin patches from the neck, pelvis and tail of Wyrex show scaly, reptilian-like skin, said researchers led be Phil Bell from University of New England.
The fossil integument (outer covering) from T rex and other members of the group confirm that “these large-bodied forms possessed scaly reptilian-like skin, researchers said.The team suggests that the giant tyrannosaurs lost their feathers over time because they no longer needed them as insulation. The study was published in the journal Biology Letters.