Dinosaurs Inside and Out

Dinosaur Skin

What color or colors were the dinosaurs?

No one, as yet, has been able to tell anything about the color of a dinosaur’s skin. The skin “fades” as it is mummified, and the rocks eventually lend their own color to the fossil. But paleontologists theorize that dinosaurs, like some modern animals, used color and patterns to camouflage and identify themselves. Therefore, dinosaurs’ skin colors probably ranged from light and dark browns to greens in various patterns—all earth colors, allowing them to hide or blend in with their environment.

But there may have also been brightly colored, smaller dinosaurs. After all, today’s birds—thought to be directly related to the dinosaurs by many paleontologists—are often brightly colored in order to attract a mate or warn other birds (and even predators) away from their territory. Many scientists believe the dinosaur fossils being found with feathers—some with traces of feather pigment—may one day lead to knowledge about dinosaur colors.

There is also some evidence that crocodiles and birds, the closest living relatives of dinosaurs, may have color vision. This suggests that dinosaurs may have responded to colors in their environment, especially bright colors for territorial or mating displays or for identifying prey more easily. It’s also interesting to note that crocodiles with color vision are themselves not brightly colored at all.


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