Dinosaurs may show true colours

Dinosaurs may soon reveal their true colours after the discovery of preserved pigment in the fossils of extinct fish.

Scientists believe similar pigments might be hidden in dinosaur fossils - allowing them to work out the colour of the giant beasts for the first time. Rather than the commonly assumed grey or drab green, creatures such as Tyrannosaurus Rex could have been brightly coloured, like present day lizards.

Andrew Parker, a biophysicist from the Australian Museum in Sydney, is reported by New Scientist to have discovered cells called chromatophores, which contain colour pigments, in fish fossils. If researchers knew where to look, he says, they should be able to work out the colours of other extinct animals.

"We can finally accurately describe the colour of animals from the past rather than simply speculate or extrapolate the colour by comparing it to modern animals," Parker told the magazine.

However, an expert from the Natural History Museum said it was unlikely that dinosaurs were brightly coloured. Dr Angela Milner said: ""It's not impossible dinosaurs had bright colours but it's not likely. If you look at the range of large lizards and crocodiles today most of them are not brightly coloured."