The animated short of Gertie the dinosaur was first shown in 1914. Dinosaurs are still largely depicted as being scaly creatures, often brightly coloured but, for the most part, completely naked. Will 2011 be the year when illustrators grasp the nettle and start to depict members of the dinosaur clade as feathered animals rather than scaly beasts?
How Dinosaurs are Illustrated
Gertie the dinosaur, one of the very first images of a moving dinosaur seen by members of the public was based on a Sauropod, a long-necked dinosaur.Scientists have a better understanding of the anatomy and physical structure of these animals. Trace fossils such as footprints have even hinted at dinosaur behaviour, but as to what colour they were - scientists remain very much in the dark. The colouration of dinosaurs is based on scientific assumption, as colour of rarely fossilises.
The amazing fossil finds over the last twenty years or so, most notably from Liaoning Province in northern China; have revealed that a number of small, meat-eating dinosaurs were feathered.The feathers, were simple in structure, more-like proto-feathers and quills, than the sophisticated feathers associated with a bird's wing.
Feathered Dinosaurs from China
A number of different types of feathered dinosaur are known from the early Cretaceous deposits of Liaoning. The fossils of these different types of dinosaur all show feather-like structures. If feathered dinosaurs existed here, then surely, they existed elsewhere.
So far the evidence for feathered dinosaurs is mostly associated with lizard-hipped dinosaurs, the Saurischians, but there is some other great group the bird-hipped dinosaurs, or Ornithischians may at least have had some feathered representatives. As the fossil evidence builds up, perhaps 2011 will mark a change in how the Dinosauria are depicted. Will feathered, or bristly dinosaurs become the norm, as opposed to seeing the naked scaly forms, so readily illustrated in scientific volumes and children's encyclopaedias of the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s?