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Largest-ever feathered dinosaur discovered in China (2)

(Xinhua)

08:36, April 06, 2012

The researchers estimate that an adult Yutyrannus would have been about 9 meters long and weighed about 1,400 kg. This makes it considerably smaller than the Tyrannosaurus rex, but some 40 times the weight of the largest previously known feathered dinosaur, the statement said.

The large size of Yutyrannus and the downy structure of its feathers would have made flight an impossibility, the statement continued, but the feathers may have had another important function -- insulation to keep warm.

"The idea that primitive feathers could have been for insulation rather than flight has been around for a long time," said Dr Corwin Sullivan, a Canadian palaeontologist involved in the study. "However, large-bodied animals typically retain heat quite easily, and actually have more of a potential problem with overheating. That makes Yutyrannus, which is large and downright shaggy, a bit of a surprise."

According to the statement, the explanation may be climate-related.

While the Cretaceous Period was generally very warm, Yutyrannus lived during the middle part of the Early Cretaceous, when temperatures are thought to have been somewhat cooler.

"Yutyrannus dramatically increases the size range of dinosaurs for which we have definite evidence of feathers," Xu said. "It's possible that feathers were much more widespread, at least among the meat-eating dinosaurs, than most scientists would have guessed, even a few years ago."

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