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What Did Dinosaurs Really Look Like

If we learned all we know about dinosaurs from fossils then how do we know what they really looked like? Were they gray or orange? Smooth or scratchy? Kidzworld investigates...

What was the Color of Dinosaur Skin?

It's impossible to know what color dinosaurs were - they might have been gray, black, green or pink with purple spots - but scientists can make educated guesses by looking at species of today. Since dinosaurs are related to modern reptiles, there's a good chance dinosaurs had skin that looked similar. Usually large reptiles, such as monitors, are basically gray but small lizards can be brightly colored. It is possible large dinos were shades of gray, while the small dinosaurs, like the Compsognathus, could have been bright colors.

What was Dino Skin Like?

Even if we'll never know what color dinosaurs were, we might have a few clues as to what their skin looked like. Natural cast fossils of dinosaur skin have been discovered, which show what the texture of various dinosaurs was like. For example, Diplodocus seems to have had a pattern of tiny, pinhead-sized bumps while the Hadrosaurus and Edmontosaurus skin had a leathery, pebbled appearance sort of like a football.

Did Dinosaurs Have Feathers?

Not long ago, farmers in northeastern China found the fossil of a duck-size dromaeosaur. The remains of the dino are the clearest link ever between birds and dinosaurs. It shows at least three different kinds of feathers, from head to tail. Dromaeosaurs didn't have wings so why did they have feathers? The truth is that scientists don't really know. Some say they had them for warmth, others say they had them to attract mates or distract predators. Over millions of years, feathers developed from tiny tufts of fluff to their modern structure, which helps birds fly. There's even some evidence that tyrannosaurs had feathers, at least when it was a baby.

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What Do You Think Dinosaurs Looked Like?

  • I think they had feathers like birds.
  • They definitely looked like reptiles.
  • I bet they had skin like we do.
  • I have no idea!

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