By Neeraj Namburu
You might be thinking, “Yeah green or maybe some shades of gray and brown, right?” Jurassic park showed off these amazing grayish brown T-rex’s, but has anyone actually seen a dinosaur to confirm that. I sure haven’t, and right now the last dinosaur was alive 65 million years ago, so we can’t just go and look at one to confirm. We know a lot about what dinosaurs looked like from their fossil records. We know how the bones fit together by comparing the dinosaurs to their closest animal relatives — that would be birds by the way. We know how their muscles might fit together by looking at the patterns on the bones. We can even tell if they were scaly or not based on the imprints in the ground near the fossils, but one thing we don’t know for sure is the skin color. Bones are really nice because they’re tough, so they’ll stay preserved for millions of years if the conditions are right. Skin, however, is really soft so it’s harder to find an intact skin sample from dinosaurs. Even the most detailed skin samples don’t tell us a lot about color, so it’s really been a lot of imagination up to this point.
Today, scientists in the field of paleocolor are trying to learn more about what color dinosaurs really are. The key is studying these really tiny structures called melanosomes which tell us what pigments or color particles could be on the dinosaur. Scientists can use these clues to estimate what color a dinosaur might be. By studying these pigments, scientists have even found that some dinosaurs might have rainbow-like skin qualities. For now, we can’t know for sure what color every dinosaur was, and we can’t be too certain about our own guesses. It’s only a matter of time, though, until we learn more about these ancient dinosaurs.