This dashing dinosaur rocked a rainbow around its neck

Rainbow dinosaurs discovered in China that have colorful feathers like the humming birds

Caihong juji's skull shape resembles that of a velociraptor.

The Caihong was discovered in the form of a almost complete fossil discovered in China's Hebei Province.

A new species of dinosaur, first discovered by a farmer in north east China, likely sported lovely, rainbow-coloured feathers on its head, wings and tail, according to palaeontologists. While its distinctive feathers were a relatively recent evolution, it had several traits typical of much earlier dinosaurs, including a bony crest on its head.

The fossils of the chicken-sized dinosaur, which also goes by the name of Caihong juji (Mandarin for "rainbow with the big crest"), lived in China during the Jurassic period and was discovered as a near-complete skeleton in a slab of rock in 2014.

Their findings were published in the journal Nature Communications.

Dongyu Hu, a professor in the College of Paleontology at the Shenyang Normal University is lead author.

The researchers stated that the dinosaur had iridescent feathers, which is still present on some species of modern birds.

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An worldwide team of scientists studying the dinosaur, called Caihong juji, made the discovery by carefully analyzing tiny melanosomes, the part of the cells that contain pigment, in the fossil, which turned up dramatic evidence of the dinosaur's flamboyant plumage. As their shape determines the color of its feathers, and Caihong's feathers had pancake-shaped melanosomes similar to those found in hummingbirds, it's easy to compare the two creatures based on how their feathers reflect light.

Caihong's were on its tail, not on it's arm feathers - suggesting that the tail was first utilised for flight.

The slab of rock containing the dinosaur fossil included a almost complete skeleton (brown) as well as feather impressions (black). The impressions preserved the shape of the melanosomes. A comparative analysis of these melanosomes resulted in a close match with the iridescent, rainbow-patterned feathers found in hummingbirds.

The dinosaur marks the earliest appearance discovered so far of asymmetrical feathers. "It is really cool. or maybe creepy looking depending on your perspective". Roughly the size of a crow, the creature lived roughly 161 million years ago.

In modern birds - the descendants of dinosaurs - colourful plumage is used to attract mates, leading researchers to suggest that the feature served a similar function when Caihong was alive, in addition to keeping the animal warm. "It has a rather Velociraptor-looking low and long skull with this fully feathered, shaggy kind of plumage and a big fan tail". "Hummingbirds have bright, iridescent feathers, but if you took a hummingbird feather and smashed it into tiny pieces, you'd only see black dust", explained Chad Eliason, a postdoctoral researcher at Chicago's Field Museum of Natural History, in a press release.

"This discovery gives us insight into the tempo of how fast these features were evolving", he added.

Along with Eliason, the study was conducted by Quanguo Li of the China University of Geosciences in Beijing and Matthew D. Shawkey of the University of Ghent in Belgium.

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