More fuzzy dinosaurs

FuzzysaurusI was ahead of my time when I wrote fur-covered plant-eating dinosaurs into my Dinosaur Wars novels in 2002 and 2004. I had already written and illustrated feather-covered meat eaters in the original story in 2000. Now, in 2014, dinosaur diggers in Siberia have come up with a new, wooly plant eating dinosaur they call Kulindadromeus. Its excellent state of preservation shows the fine details of a never-before-seen type of furry coating on the animal’s body, head, arms, and legs. Click the image for more detail on this cute, bunny-sized (although earless and rat-tailed) critter.

Fuzzy scales up closeThe wooly covering is intriguing in its own right. It consists of scales, out of which sprout bunches of hair-like threads. The scientists who described it suggest its multi-branched structure is related somehow to the multi-branched structure of feathers. So this stuff and feathers probably arose in a common dinosaur ancestor, way back at the beginning of the Age of Dinosaurs–or before.

In contrast to the complex branching forms of these structures, the hair that covers mice and men seems almost–gulp–primitively simple. Wait. Aren’t WE the most advanced species around here?

Anyway. If I may brag a moment. I created furry dinosaurs in my Dinosaur Wars novels, and my Dinosaur Tales short stories, based on a simple, unproven, but reasonable thought. If the meat eating dinosaurs were fuzzy and warm blooded (as was known as far back as 1986), then how could the plant eaters escape being eaten, if they weren’t every bit as fast and hot-blooded as their pursuers? So, even in the absence of fossil evidence, I developed some pretty complete verbal descriptions and a few images of plant eaters with warm, wooly coverings.

Wooly pachyI was about ten years ahead of my time when some of those imaginings were published in Dinosaur Wars: Counterattack, which is book two of the series. Since then, I have continued to dream up wooly dinosaurs. Click my more recent image of Pachyrhinosaurus for a close-up view of its furry coat. That took a lot of time for me to paint.

So, real science has finally caught up with my fiction. There’s something satisfying about that.

The only sad note here is that I’m no longer ten years ahead of my times. Hmmm. I’d better get back to dreaming things up again real soon.

About Tom Hopp

Thomas P Hopp is a scientist and author living in Seattle. He writes Peyton McKean mystery stories and the Dinosaur Wars science fiction series.
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