Jan 13

Reported in Wired Science by Wired Science Staff, December 30, 2010.

In a year full of major advances, over-hyped findings and controversial studies, it was tough for the Wired Science staff to choose which¬† breakthroughs were the biggest in 2010. So we’ve collected the ones that stood out the most to us.

From synthetic life and three-parent embryos to the possibility of a new human ancestor and a habitable exoplanet, here are the breakthroughs that made us shout “Science!” the loudest this year.

Dinosaur Colors

For the first time, scientists were able to use direct fossil evidence to make a reasonable interpretation of a dinosaur’s color.

Building on the discovery of preserved traces of pigment structures in cells in fossilized dinosaur feathers (above), paleontologists compared the dinosaur cells with the corresponding cells in living birds. By studying the colors created by different combinations of these melanosomes in bird feathers, the researchers recreated the coloring of a recently discovered feathered dinosaur, Anchiornis huxleyi (right).

The dinosaur probably had bright orange feathers on its head and speckled on its throat, a grey body and white accents on its wings.

The same technique was subsequently used to determine the color of a giant fossil penguin.

Images: 1) Sam Ose /Wikimedia Commons 2) Michael DiGiorgio/Yale University

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