Feathered tyrannosaur weighed a tonne

Latest news from Nature 04 April 2012

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Climate science: Linking temperature and CO2 increases at the end of the last ice age

Fossils: Feathered tyrannosaur weighed a tonne

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Climate science: Linking temperature and CO2 increases at the end of the last ice age

Work that may clarify the relationship between carbon dioxide (CO2) levels and temperature at the end of the last ice age is presented in this week's Nature. The study reveals that rising temperatures were preceded by CO2 increases during the last deglaciation, contrary to prior findings derived from ice cores that were thought to represent larger global patterns. These results support an important role for CO2 in driving global climate change.

Antarctic ice-core records indicate that CO2 may have influenced climate changes during the Pleistocene ice ages, which began around 2.6 million years ago and ended about 11,700 years ago. However, the exact role of CO2 in producing climate changes has remained unclear, partly because ice-core records only reflect local temperatures. To better understand the relationship between CO2 and global climate change, Jeremy Shakun and colleagues reconstruct global surface temperatures for the last deglaciation. They show that rising temperatures are correlated with, and generally lag behind, increasing levels of CO2.

The reconstructed global temperatures were produced using proxy records of temperature variability, such as those recorded in planktonic microorganisms. Anomalies in the correlations, such as in the Antarctic where the CO2 changes lag behind temperature, are explained by redistribution of heat between the Northern and Southern Hemispheres, the authors suggest.


Jeremy Shakun (Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, USA)
Tel: +1 781 898 8529; E-mail: [email protected]

Eric Wolff (British Antarctic Survey, Cambridge, UK) N&V author
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Fossils: Feathered tyrannosaur weighed a tonne (pp 92-95)

Three remarkably complete skeletons representing a previously unknown species of giant, feathered tyrannosaur have been discovered in China. The creature, described in Nature, is the largest-known feathered animal, living or extinct.

Tyrannosaurus rex and its gigantic cousins lived until around 65 million years ago but most of their earlier relatives are thought to have been much smaller. This notion is challenged by the discovery of three specimens of a new species of tyrannosauroid: one adult that is estimated to have weighed over 1,400 kilograms, and two juveniles that may have tipped the scales at a ‘mere’ half-tonne. The dinosaur, whose name translates as ‘beautiful feathered tyrant’, shares some features with derived tyrannosaurs, but has three-fingered forelimbs and a typical theropod foot, like other early tyrannosaur relatives.

Most notable, however, is the animal’s long, filamentous feathered plumage, which provides direct evidence for the presence of extensively feathered giant dinosaurs. The plumage is likely to have had an insulating function, but because the feathers are preserved only partially in the three specimens, the possibility of their having a more restricted distribution on the body and functioning as display structures cannot be ruled out.


Xing Xu (Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China)
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Corwin Sullivan (Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China) co-author
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From North America and Canada
Neda Afsarmanesh, Nature New York
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From Japan, Korea, China, Singapore and Taiwan
Eiji Matsuda, Nature Tokyo
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From the UK
Rebecca Walton, Nature London
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Published: 04 Apr 2012

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