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Photos: This Dinosaur's Feathers Shimmered with Iridescence

Rainbow dinosaur

Dinosaur feathers

(Image credit: Velizar Simeonovski/The Field Museum, for the University of Texas at Austin)

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]

Amazing fossil

Dinosaur feathers

(Image credit: Yu et al., 2018)

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."

Fierce skull

Dinosaur feathers

(Image credit: Yu et al., 2018)

The skull of C. juji looks similar to that of Velociraptor.

Melanosomes

Dinosaur feathers

(Image credit: Yu et al., 2018)

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.

Iridescent hunter

Rainbow dinosaur illustration

(Image credit: Zhao Chuang)

C. juji prepares to snatch its prey.

Sketching dinosaurs

Dinosaur feathers

(Image credit: Yu et al., 2018)

Photos and drawings of the incredibly detailed C. juji fossil.

Back bones

Dinosaur feathers

(Image credit: Yu et al., 2018)

These close-ups show the vertebral column of C. juji.

[Read more about the iridescent dinosaur]

Limb bones

Dinosaur feathers

(Image credit: Yu et al., 2018)

A magnified view of the dinosaur's pectoral girdle and limbs.

Feather collage

Dinosaur feathers

(Image credit: Yu et al., 2018)

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.

Melanosome comparison

Dinosaur feathers

(Image credit: Yu et al., 2018)

A comparison of melanosomes in modern iridescent birds.

Iridescent hummingbird

Dinosaur feathers

(Image credit: Heather Skeen/the Field Museum)

The dinosaur's melanosomes looked most like those of a modern hummingbird.