Sino-American team of paleontologists has found that the plumage of a tiny dinosaur dating back 130 million years had glowing colors, the first one that shows that this trait played a key role in the seduction early in the evolution of species.
The feathers of this four-winged Microraptor as big as a pigeon had hints of black and blue like a crow.
It fed on insects and live in the trees of what is now northeastern China.
This is the first dinosaur that scientists were able to reconstruct this characteristic plumage from a fossil unearthed in 2003.
Iridescence is now widespread in nature. Many insects, butterflies, fish and birds have their flamboyant colors to optical phenomenon whereby a surface appears to change color depending on the angle from which you look taking the colors of the rainbow.
"This study provides an unprecedented look at the appearance of this animal when he was alive," said Mark Norell, chairman of the paleontology section of the American Museum of Natural History, one of the authors of this paper appeared in the journal Science dated March 9.
"Modern birds use their colorful feathers for many things ranging from thermoregulation, camouflage, through seduction", told AFP Matt Shawkey, a biology professor at the University of Akron (Ohio, North), who also participated in the study.
This discovery shows that "the iridescence of the colors was already important for seduction relatively early in evolution," he said.
The paleontologist also stresses the importance of this fossil Microraptor represents "a very clear transition between dinosaurs and birds which he has many morphological features."
"The unique characteristics of the wings of Microraptor also help us understand the origin of flight," said he.
Dinosaurs, it has teeth, the shape of the front legs and his long bony tail and narrow, says the researcher.
"Many hypotheses have been advanced to explain how the feathers of Microraptor were oriented and whether they formed an airfoil to fly or if they served only to win," said Mark Norell.
"Not only did we determine the color of this animal but also the fact that Microraptor, like many modern birds, was using the color of its feathers to give visual signals to other members of his species," welcomed there.
These researchers, using microscopes capable of scanning electron analyzed the shape of melanosomes within which are produced melanins, pigments protect the skin from solar radiation, and thus deduce the colors produced.
"With the many discoveries of fossils of birds and flowering plants, we know that the Cretaceous (minus 145.5 million year to less 65.5 million years) was a colorful world, and now we also know Microraptor had the pearly colors, "said Gao Ke-Qin of Peking University in China, another study author.
"There are still a few years, it was inconceivable to think of doing research like this," he adds.
The God Particle would be within the reach of science. U.S. measures confirm the results of the CERN in Geneva.
New measurements made by both teams with American Tevatron accelerator, closed in 2011, indicate that the Higgs boson, the missing key elementary particle theory, would almost be flushed out, said Wednesday Fermilab. These calculations confirm those made in the experiments made by two other groups of physicists at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN (European Organisation for Nuclear Research) in Geneva, said in a statement the U.S. National Laboratory (Fermilab) located in Batavia, Illinois (north). However, the two research teams, CDF and DZero, have used different techniques than the Cern to track down the Higgs boson, says he.
"The end of the hunt to capture the Higgs boson is close," ruled Jim Siegrist, deputy director of science high-energy physics to the U.S. Department of Energy. "This is a key step in the experiments at the Tevatron and demonstrates the importance of continuing to perform measurements independently in the quest for understanding of the elements forming nature," he added.
The Higgs particle is never found the missing piece in the theory of the fundamental structure of matter developed in the 60s to describe all particles and forces in the universe. In this model, the Higgs boson explains why some particles are equipped with a mass and others do not. Its detection would validate this theory. British physicist Peter Higgs in 1964 had postulated the existence of this particle to which it gave its name.
A margin of error too great
"I’m really excited about the pace of progress in the search for the Higgs boson," said Pier Oddone, director of Fermilab Tevatron who operated, long the most powerful particle accelerator in the world that has ceased operations in September 2011 . "The two groups have independently been scouring hundreds of trillions of collisions between protons and antiprotons stored in their experiments to achieve this exciting" after ten years of work, he added.
These results are the mass of the Higgs boson in the region of 115 to 135 gigaelectronvolts (GeV), either in the same area as 115 to 127 GeV that emerged from experiments in the LHC in Geneva. But the margin of statistical fluctuation or error is not low enough to declare with certainty the existence of a new particle, says Fermilab. Such a discovery is claimed if the probability of error is less than one in 3.5 million.
"None of the advances announced so far in chasing the Higgs boson in experiments at the Tevatron to the LHC are as yet sufficiently certain to be able to proclaim the existence of this particle," says Fermilab. Physicists CDF and DZero experiments were presenting their findings at the annual conference devoted to the physics of electroweak interactions and unified theories, known as Rencontres de Moriond taking place this year in La Thuile, Italy from March 3 to 10.