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The Best of Bristol Lectures

Knowing the impossible: the colour of dinosaurs

Knowing the impossible: the colour of dinosaurs


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Scientists use lateral thinking to solve previously insoluble problems. For years, palaeontologists have told people that we will never know the colours of dinosaurs. Now we do. In work he did as a PhD student, Jakob Vinther discovered the method, and then two teams, led by Vinther, then at Yale, and Mike Benton at Bristol, published the evidence in 2010. For the first time, palaeontologists could provide objective evidence of the colour and patterns of dinosaurs. Knowing that dinosaurs were often brightly coloured and patterned then opened up wider questions about the origin and success of birds and about the origins of sexual selection and display behaviours. In this talk, Vinther and Benton will give a to-and-fro, no holds barred, account of how the work was done, and where it is heading in the future.

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