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Re: skin color
It seems to me that there are some very important obstacles to developing
compelling reconstructions of dinosaur skin patterns and colors. In the first
place, it is rather difficult to reconstruct other aspects of the environment,
especially plants, that probably had a profound influence on coloration.
Knowing what plants were around and being able to model how they filled the
environment are two different things, and the absence of many modern groups
makes it difficult to imagine the landscape without them. Of course, this is
less a problem for the late K than for earlier times. Perhaps a greater
problem is the fact that while there are living archosaurs to be considered
as analogues, dinosaurs were ecologically unlike them and perhaps unlike any
living organism. On the other hand, it is mammals that come closest to
providing ecological analogues, but, because they are phylogenetically remote,
mammals may never have had the same genetic palette available to them. Large
mammals are drab, but mammals in general are drab in comparison with birds.
Most dino artists seem to opt for either a brightly colored bird model or a
somewhat more subdued mammal model. They are radically different, but it is
difficult to build a strong case that one is better than the other.