How do paleontologists determine what color a dinosaur's feathers were?

Last week, researchers studying a dinosaur named Microraptor published the results of a remarkable discovery: this small, four-winged dinosaur was covered from head-to-toe in black feathers, but shone with a glossy hint of blue. In other words, its plumage was iridescent.

io9 hosted a live webcast last week at the American Museum of Natural History with renowned paleontologist Mark Norell and AMNH principle senior artist Mick Ellison (both of whom were involved in the Microraptor research), and field questions from viewers about their research. For those of you who missed it, here's the webcast in its entirety!


Many thanks to Mark, Mick and the American Museum of Natural History. For more AMNH goodness, check out our ongoing Hardcore Science Interview series, and visit the AMNH to see their latest exhibitions.

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So, in the year 30,000 when the Octopods (I'm convinced the octopus will rule the Earth eventually) unearth the amazingly preserved "Snookie" specimen, what will they deduce about the homo-sapiens sapiens race?

We were separated from the great apes by the "guido" gene?

Great apes had far superior intelligence?

Our stunted growth was a evolutionary measure to make sure we could fit into limo's with ease?