A team of researchers at Rio de Janeiro's Federal University has produced a 3D image of a bird that lived in northeastern Brazil during the Mesozoic Era, an article in the British journal Nature Communications said.
The 3D representation shows a bird the size of a hummingbird that flew around during the geological era between 254 million and 66 million years ago.
The most striking feature of the bird, the first of its type found in Latin America, is its elliptical feathers with a row of rounded spots in a colored pattern.
Lead author Ismar de Souza and his team said the tail plumage could have been associated with mating rituals, the recognition of different species or visual communication.
"The morphology of this tail feather is not optimized for aerodynamic purposes" and the plumage probably hindered flight, the researchers said.
The stage of bone development indicates the specimen was probably a bird that died young.
Fernando Novas, of the Argentine Museum of Natural Sciences, also participated in the study and said the bird's image "is a reconstruction of how one of the Latin America's oldest fossil birds looked like."
"This extinct bird lived in the time of the dinosaurs, some 115 million years ago," Novas said.
Novas explained that scientists worked on fossil remains "comprising bones, some teeth and, the most interesting part, feathers that covered this bird's body."
"The northeastern region of Brazil, where the bird's remains were found, is famous for its fossils," Novas said. "Thousands of fossil remains from fish, dinosaurs and insects are known in the area, but this is the first time skin and feather remains have been found."