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Were Dinosaurs Colorful?

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While still a mystery, it is likely dinosaurs were very colorful, especially the males. (Image credit: AMNH/J. Brougham)

Dinosaurs had bumpy skin, similar to the skin of an alligator or a flightless emu bird. But their skin color remains a mystery to paleontologists today.

“When it comes to color, all we can say is that they were most likely as colorful as birds because birds are their descendants,” said Montana State University paleontologist Jack Horner. “Visual display is very important to animals that are active in daylight. Most reptiles, including almost all the birds, are diurnal and therefore use color for display and camouflage.”

In contrast, mammals initially evolved as nocturnal animals and are therefore mostly color-blind. Most mammals, even today, communicate by sniffing one another, said Horner, rather than looking at colorful flashy signs.

Dinosaurs were most likely very colorful, and like birds, the males were probably more colorful than the females,” Horner told LiveScience.

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They roamed Earth millions of years ago, have spurred blockbuster movies and fascinated the studied paleontologist and the curious toddler. Yes, dinosaurs.

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