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The dinosaur that dressed like Anna Wintour

Gliding through trees in what is now China some 130 million years ago, the microraptor sported shimmering black feathers, a new study reveals.   

Image

This undated handout artist illustration provided by the American Museum of Natural History shows a Microraptor, based on a fossil from 130 million years ago found in China. It indicates that the dinosaur – and it is a dinosaur even though it looks somewhat like a bird – had glossy black feathers.

Mick Ellison/American Museum of Natural History/Science/AAAS/AP

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Even dinosaurs can look sharp in basic black and downright iridescent.

An unusual crowlike dinosaur — which really does not look like a dinosaur at all — had glossy black feathers that were probably used to call attention to itself and find a mate, scientists say in Thursday's journal Science.

Think nightlife at New York clubs, but 130 million years ago and in rural China, said study co-author Mark Norell of the American Museum of Natural History in New York.

He calls the look an "Anna Wintour special" after the Vogue editor.

It is the oldest example of the shimmering look on animals, said study co-author Julia Clarke at the University of Texas. And in other animals, especially birds, that shine is often how males attract females to mate.

"It's like shimmery clothes and garments you would wear out to big social gatherings," said Matthew Shawkey, another co-author from the University of Akron. He said they figure it was glossy from the shape of sacs that contain pigment in a fossil found in rural China.

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