During the Jurassic period, about 161 million years ago, a duck-size dinosaur dazzled its fellow paleo-beasts with its rainbow-colored, iridescent feathers.
This newly analyzed dinosaur, dubbed Caihong juji is the oldest dinosaur on record with iridescent feathers, according to a new study. [Read more about the iridescent dinosaur]
After analyzing the fossil (shown here), researchers named the dinosaur Caihong juji. The genus name comes from the Mandarin word "caihong," which means rainbow. The species name is made up of two Mandarin words: "ju" and "ji," which translate to "big" and crest."
In all, the dinosaur's scientific name translates to "rainbow with the big crest."
The skull of C. juji looks similar to that of Velociraptor.
Researchers figured out that C. juji had iridescent feathers by looking at the shape and structure of its melanosomes, the parts of cells that contain pigment.
C. juji prepares to snatch its prey.
Photos and drawings of the incredibly detailed C. juji fossil.
These close-ups show the vertebral column of C. juji.
[Read more about the iridescent dinosaur]
A magnified view of the dinosaur's pectoral girdle and limbs.
The different feathers found on the dinosaur's body. Because C. juji couldn't fly, it likely used its feathers to keep warm and to attract mates.
A comparison of melanosomes in modern iridescent birds.
The dinosaur's melanosomes looked most like those of a modern hummingbird.
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Laura is the archaeology and Life's Little Mysteries editor at Live Science. She also reports on general science, including paleontology. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Scholastic, Popular Science and Spectrum, a site on autism research. She has won multiple awards from the Society of Professional Journalists and the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association for her reporting at a weekly newspaper near Seattle. Laura holds a bachelor's degree in English literature and psychology from Washington University in St. Louis and a master's degree in science writing from NYU.