Yes, that is what feathering T. rex is becoming! Once again I’m feeling the same as what was happening in the 80’s and 90’s when several madcaps like some of us confronted the hard core scientists that claimed they had the hard evidence for dinosaurs NOT being related to birds… after all we did not have any fossilised dinosaur with feathers… at least “dinosaur” by what was considered dinosaur in those days, a motley crew of reptiles unrelated to birds or at best distantly related to them (birds as we know were closer to crocodiles and all those “thecodonts” of old). Now I hear the same clamor: “we have the hard evidence that T. rex did not have feathers!”… and I answer: perhaps yes…or perhaps not, because even if we have minuscule scaly or bumpy patches (that I have the view they might have been even subcutaneous) of fossilised skin attributed to T. rex from rather dubious or indeterminate parts of the body, we do also have the fully feathered Dilong, Guanlong and notoriously the seven meter long Yutyrannus (admiteddly basal tyrannosaurs or proceratosaurs)… The genes of ancestors can manifest any time anywhere in the subsequent generations… so Evolution, albeit not fossilised skin, is on our side for the time being, at least in the shape of argument! Same as having Deinonychus and deducting it was an relative of Archaeopteryx, and it might have had feathers (even if we still don’t have hard evidence for them)… never mind, another raptor, the dog-sized Velociraptor was found with preserved knob marks of the feather quills on its arm bones.
Even Thomas Carr and his article on the distribution of scales in the head of Tyrannosaurus is telling me something different: look at Nature’s reconstruction. There’s a clear delimitation, a sharp contrast in what the snout scars on the bone is telling us about external integument . The reconstruction shows two very differentiated types of scales… while I interpret it in a different way: scaly “crocodilian” snout sharply limited by the possible protofeathery rest of the head. Raise eyebrows? Certainly…
Imagination overriding evidence? Dr. Bob Bakker knows a thing or two about predicting and imagining… if not he wouldn’t have asked me to do T. rex feathered for The Big Golden Book Of Dinosaurs, since at the same time he was sending me pictures of the pebbly skin of the famous “Wyrex“… He knew about those minuscule patches of tyrannosaur skin… and it didn’t deter him!
So… I’m still inclined to reconstruct T. rex with protofeathery stuff… will time prove me right or wrong? Or is it a non-issue like some have argued? Some have even betted that we, the feathery tyrannosaur people, will be notoriously vanquished at the end. It sounds just as childish as what happened in the 90’s… let’s see who “wins” at the end… but I can tell you that science will always be a winner in these discussions, no matter how childish they might be. For more on that please have a look at Thom Holtz view in this article
And yes, you guess it, the new artwork featured here is another of my exercises over a classic picture I found in the net… I love to work right on top of mounted skeletons and bring them to life! You can almost hear the crunch of the chance bite of Tyrannosaurus rex over these Triceratops horns!
And I leave you with some volcanic explosions to lighten your day!