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Worth a Thousand Words

Did dinosaurs have feathers? More and more fossils are being uncovered suggesting that this is indeed the case. But some fossils are suspected to be hoaxes and others are difficult to study. Not being made of bone, feathers do not preserve well. While there are imprints of feathers around the fossilized skeletons, the feathers are difficult to see. And most notably, it is difficult to see if the feathers are actually attached to the skeletons….that is, under the visible light.

In this week’s article The Extent of the Preserved Feathers on the Four-Winged Dinosaur Microraptor gui under Ultraviolet Light, David W. E. Hone, Helmut Tischlinger, Xing Xu and Fucheng Zhang used ultraviolet light on a beautifully preserved fossil of Microraptor gui. Under UV light, not just that many more feathers could be seen, but it also became obvious that the feathers are themselves attached to the bones, thus negating alternative hypotheses of either accidental co-fossilization of feathers with the dinosaur, or the feathers being a hoax.

And now, thanks to improvements of UV-light photography, you can see this for yourself in a series of images in this article, including this one – Figure 3:

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