Flaunting Dinosaur: The T. Rex Relative That Could Really Shake Its Tail Feather

on January 4, 2013 9:54 AM EST

Tail Feather
A T. Rex relative likely had elaborate tail feathers that they used to put on mating displays (Photo: Sydney Mohr)

Flaunting dinosaurs would have made the past look like a Las Vegas casino, according to a new study, published in the journal Acta Palaeontologica Polonica. Researchers found that some dinosaurs used their tail feathers to attract mates, and said these flaunting dinosaurs, a relative of the T-Rex, were some of the last dinosaur species to roam the Earth.

"Don't think of a trip back to the Mesozoic like a saunter through a reptile house," Scott Persons, study author and researcher at the University of Alberta, said, according to the Canadian Press. "Think of it as a trip to Las Vegas, because there would be tail-feather fans on show girls for you."

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Researchers studied numerous oviraptor fossils, and found that these flaunting dinosaurs had short, numerous vertebrae, which indicates great flexibility. In addition, the researchers found that the flaunting dinosaur would have had large muscles going down the tail, enabling them to shake their tail feathers.

Researchers studied numerous oviraptor fossils, and found that these flaunting dinosaurs had short, numerous vertebrae, which indicates great flexibility. In addition, the researchers found that the flaunting dinosaur would have had large muscles going down the tail, enabling them to shake their tail feathers.

The study also suggests that the flaunting dinosaur's tail feathers may have looked like a peacocks'.

"Exceptional fossils of oviraptors from China, which were preserved in fine volcanic ash, show definitively that at least some of the tail feathers had bands of contrasting color," Persons said. "They may have had iridescent feathers, like a peacock, but that is a harder question, and one without definitive evidence."

But while the study's findings clearly show that the flaunting dinosaur put on elaborate tail shows, unfortunately, we'll never know what the show looked like.

"Oviraptors clearly had the anatomy needed to sinuously swish and to gracefully flaunt their tails," Persons told Discovery News. "I suspect that a displaying oviraptor would be quite a sight, but the precise choreography of a dinosaur mating dance is the sort of thing that you can't learn from bones and is, sadly, the sort of thing that paleontologists will probably never know."

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