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Last Updated: Thursday January 28 2010 13:46 GMT

Dinosaur had ginger feathers


This little dinosaur is called Sinosauropteryx and until recently scientists thought he was covered in bristles.

But a team of researchers from the UK and China has now found that this 125-million-year-old dinosaur actually had ginger-coloured feathers.

The researchers say Sinosauropteryx had a thick stripe of feathers running along its head and back.

It was the size of a turkey and fed on lizards and other small prey.

This is the first time scientists have been able to tell what colour a dinosaur's feathers were.

The team first studied the fossilised remains of a bird that lived at the same time as the Sinosauropteryx.

Coloured feathers

Using a powerful microscope they could see structures called melanosomes in the bird's feathers.

When they looked at the Sinosauropteryx fossil they also found melanomes, showing that the structures they thought were bristles were in fact feathers.

And the shapes of the melanomes showed them that the dinosaur had ginger feathers running down its spine.