T. rex relative is biggest ever feathered animal

Yutyrannus  Dr Brian Choo Yutyrannus lived long before T. rex, in the early Cretaceous Period

Related Stories

A newly described relative of Tyrannosaurus rex is the largest known feathered animal - living or extinct.

The feathered meat-eating dinosaur lived about 125 million years ago and is estimated to have weighed a whopping 1,400kg as an adult.

The new species, known as Yutyrannus, has been identified from three fossils found in north-eastern China.

The finds, detailed in Nature journal, challenge current theories about the evolution of T.rex and its relations.

This group of dinosaurs is known as the Tyrannosauroids.

Tyrannosaurus rex and its gigantic cousins lived until around 65 million years ago - when a huge asteroid wiped out the dinosaurs - but most of their earlier relatives are thought to have been much smaller.

Fine feathered fiend

However, Xing Xu and colleagues from the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing have now described three specimens of Yutyrannus, which represents an early example of the Tyrannosauroid form.

Tail feathers Shake your tail feather: the Chinese fossils are exquisitely preserved

The fossils include the one-and-a-half-tonne adult and also two juvenile specimens that would have tipped the scales at about half a tonne.

The dinosaur, whose name translates as "beautiful feathered tyrant", shares some features with later tyrannosaurs like T.rex, but has three functional fingers (where T. rex had two) and a foot typical of other early tyrannosaur relatives.

Perhaps the most notable discovery, however, is the creature's extensive plumage, which provides direct evidence for the existence of giant feathered dinosaurs.

The scientists think the long, filament-like feathers would have acted as insulation, but they cannot rule out the possibility that they were also used for display in mating or fighting rituals.

Yutyrannus  Dr Brian Choo Yutyrannus' feathers probably insulated the dinosaur

More on This Story

Related Stories

More Science & Environment stories

RSS

Features & Analysis

  • Prostitute in red light district in Seoul, South KoreaSex for soldiers

    How Korea helped prostitutes work near US military bases


  • LuckyDumped

    The rubbish collector left on the scrap heap as his city cleans up


  • A woman gets a Thanksgiving meal at a church in FergusonFamily fears

    Three generations in Ferguson share Thanksgiving reflections


  • Walmart employees and supporters block off a major intersection near the Walton Family Foundation to stage a protest calling for $15 an hour and consistent full-time work in downtown Washington October 16, 2014. Black mark

    Wal-Mart workers revolt against the annual shopping bonanza


BBC Future

Manmade islands require redrawn maps (Getty Images)

The last unmapped places

Uncharted regions closer than you think Read more...

Programmes

  • All-inclusive holidaysThe Travel Show Watch

    With all-inclusive holidays seeing a resurgence are local trades missing out to big resorts?

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.