The Color of Dinosaur Skin
The exact coloration of dinosaurs is impossible to know, but we can
make educated guesses by looking at animal species of today.
Since dinosaurs are related to modern reptiles, it may be that dinosaurs
were colored similarly. Large reptiles, such as Monitors, are basically
gray; small lizards can be vividly colored. It is possible large dinosaurs
were colored conservatively, while the small dinosaurs, like Compsognathus,
might have worn bright colors. Birds are well-known for their plumage;
it could be that dinosaurs were brilliantly-colored, too.
Today's animals are often colored for their environment: the black and
white stripes of zebras break up the body outline and allow them to blend
into their surroundings; crocodiles are colored so that they do not stand
out from the brownish-green water they inhabit; polar bears are white;
and so on. It is not unreasonable to think that dinosaurs might have been
colored to match their surroundings.
Many of today's animals, such as birds, display bright colors on various
parts of their anatomy as a means of attracting mates; perhaps some dinosaurs
did the same. Large herbivores of today, such as elephants and rhinos,
are dusty gray; many artistic reproductions of Apatosaurus and Diplodocus
show this modern-day color scheme.
Whatever the logic behind it, any color assigned by an artist to the representation
of a dinosaur is nothing more than a guess.