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Four wings: Amazing prehistoric raptor fossil found in China

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
7/17/2014 (3 years ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Fierce raptor with long feathered tail took to the skies

Since gaining popularity in the "Jurassic Park" movies, raptors, next to the Tyrannosaurus Rex, are probably the most feared dinosaur by modern man. Short and compact with razor sharp teeth and claws, their speed and agility make for real nightmare fodder. There is new fossil evidence of a raptor that took to the skies - in yet another link from dinosaurs to the birds of today - and had four wings and a long, feathery tail.

This nightmare creature traveled light. Only four feet long and nine pounds heavy, the Changyu lived about 125 million years ago.

This nightmare creature traveled light. Only four feet long and nine pounds heavy, the Changyu lived about 125 million years ago.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
7/17/2014 (3 years ago)

Published in Green

Keywords: Dinosaurs, raptor, feathered dinosaurs, China, Changyu


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Researchers from the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles found the fossilized remains of Changyuraptor yangi, a relative of the mighty Velociraptor that had the longest feathers of any known dinosaur.

Archaeologists made the find while working in the Chinese province of Liaoning near the border of North Korea in 2012.

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This nightmare creature traveled light. Only four feet long and nine pounds heavy, the Changyu lived about 125 million years ago.

"I've never seen anything like it," Luis Chiappe of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles told The Washington Post. "It is a stunning specimen and it was stunning to see the size of the feathers. This is the dinosaur with the longest known feathers - by far. There is nothing like this by a very good distance. The feathers were one-fourth the size of the animal."

This so-called "microraptorine" was probably not the dominant force in prehistoric times. However, it is one of the most important discoveries for scientists looking into the hypothesis of the origins of avian flight.

"Numerous features that we have long associated with birds in fact evolved in dinosaurs long before the first birds arrived on the scene," Dr. Alan Turner of Stony Brook University says. Co-author of the study published in Nature Communications, Turner says that "This includes things such as hollow bones, nesting behavior, feathers . and possibly flight."

Raptors jaws may be the most infamous part of their bodies, but this one's most important feature was its long, feathered tail.

The Changyu, which means "long-feathered" in Chinese used their tails much like today's airplanes use flaps to slow down their flight and ensure a safe landing.

"The lengthy feathered tail of the new fossil provides insight into the flight performance of microraptorines and how they may have maintained aerial competency at larger body sizes," the paper stated.

The region of China where the Changyuraptor yangi was discovered is well known for well-preserved fossils. The study said that the province has helped cement "the notion that birds evolved from theropod dinosaurs" as numerous feathered dinosaurs have been found there.

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