What colour were the dinosaurs?

Have you ever wondered what colour the dinosaurs were? Probably not, but when you think about it – how could we know. Fossils are …. well, … fossil coloured. The movies portray most of the dinosaurs as greyish, probably because the biggest land mammal we know – the elephant – is grey. Dinosaurs are also sometimes portrayed to be similar in colour to many lizzards and reptiles that are alive today – and I suppose that makes some sense. But is there any way we can work out what colour the dinosaurs really were? Probably not ….

dinosaur-replica1 

Until Jakob Vinther’s work that is. Jakob is currently working towards a PhD in paleontology at Yale University – http://www.jakobvinther.com/.

Part of Jakob’s interest is the preservation of malanin in fossils. He has discovered that melanin granules survive in their original shapes and patterns, which can be compared with existing feathers to determine their original color. One possible application of this work is that we may be able to make a very good guess at what colour many dinosaurs really were based on an analysis of their fossil remains.

13 thoughts on “What colour were the dinosaurs?

  1. I have wondered many times. Often on nature shows they portray them in many colors as if they know, and of course they do not. Glad I found your post. Now I know I am not the only person out there that has wondered.

  2. I’m not sure – I call him Jeff. However, if I had to guess at the type of dinosaur in the photo (which I suspect is what you want) then I would say that Jeff looks rather like a brontosaurus.

  3. im doing a project on dinosaurs and this helped cause i would have said grey or brown like they show in movies and books but i didn’t once i read this.

    thanks! 🙂

  4. It’s interesting that this post is viewed more often than all the other posts in my blog together. Why is this? Why are so many people interested in the colour of dinosaurs.

    [Dear Tomislav, I am sure some were green, but not all of them surely?]

    1. Color gives distinction and identity to the object. Why does the modern lizard have abilities to change colors and originals could not? This work will provide a new visual of our past.

  5. This is a brociosaurus! I probably spelled that wrong, but I know because the brociosauri were similar to the brontosauri, but they had a bump on their head.

  6. I THINK THEY WERE BROWN, GREY, AND GREEN TO HELP THEM CAMOFLAGE IN THE SHADOWS OF FORESTS AND HILLS AND SWAMPS AND I THINK THEY WERE MAMMALS

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