An exhibition about dinosaurs has been on display in the Prehistoric Museum in Boxtel since Friday. But those dinosaurs look different from the ones we’ve seen so far in films and museums: they have feathers.
A number of dinosaurs have been preserved in stone. These have been on display in the Netherlands for the first time since this Friday.
It was unknown for a long time that dinosaurs had feathers, says Jonathan Wallaard, curator of the Prehistoric Museum. “They had already been found, but at the time we still thought they were birds. Only in the last twenty years have we known that dinosaurs had feathers. And since then we have been recognizing them better and better. But where were those feathers located and how many there were? , we do not know yet.”
It is not easier to find a fossil feather. “You can see it in the dimples in the bones.”
Insulation against the cold
But this does not mean that the classic dinosaur with scales – as we see in films and pictures – did not exist. “There are a lot of dinosaurs that we found scales on. So not all of them had feathers.”
Those dinosaurs lived side by side in the same era. “Slowly but surely, more and more diversity emerged. It started with a kind of primitive feathers, as insulation against the cold. These were actually more like stiff hairs. Later they became a kind of down feathers. Then we saw dinosaurs with a complete plumage and feathers. that you could fly with.”
Anyone who tries to imagine what those dinosaurs looked like in the past does not have to look far. According to Gijs Rademaker of the Dinocast, they are still alive. “In fact, every bird is a dinosaur,” says Rademaker. “Chickens are also the descendants of the dinosaurs that survived the meteorite disaster that made all other dinosaurs extinct.”
According to Rademaker, the appearance of chickens and other poultry still resembles their ancestors. “If you look at how they move, how they walk and the way they place their legs, you really see a dinosaur from 100 million years ago.”
According to Rademaker, many people have a distorted image of dinosaurs, partly due to popular films such as Jurassic Park. “They still walk around there like green naked lizards without feathers,” the expert explains. “Jurassic Park was made at a time when the dinosaurs that had feathers had not yet been unearthed.”
He continues: “That’s why you only see those naked, lizard-like dinosaurs running after children, but that’s not entirely correct. They sometimes also had plumage and in fact looked like running Pinos.”
Moreover, bald dinosaurs in films also have another important function. “It looks scarier,” Rademaker continues. “We immediately find feathers cute and cuddly; then they are a kind of enlarged chicks and that is not scary enough.”
He himself does not agree with this. “Imagine a big bird with big teeth and a huge tail: that’s scary as hell.”
Yet it is not surprising that many people, even with this new information, cannot let go of the popular image of the dinosaur. “These images are so powerful that the image of, for example, a chicken, which looks very different and can even be called ‘cute’, does not fit the monster image we have of dinosaurs. We simply allow that less,” says Rademaker. .