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Palaeontology

'Winged dragon' velociraptor fossil unearthed

By T.K. Randall
July 17, 2015 · Comment icon 14 comments



Many dinosaurs looked quite a lot like birds. Image Credit: CC BY-SA 4.0 Salvatore Rabito Alcon
Scientists have discovered an ancestor of the velociraptor with distinctly bird-like traits.
Found preserved in limestone at the site of a volcanic eruption in China, the 6ft reptile dates back 125 million years and possesses features that indicate that it was on the cusp of becoming a bird.

Its discovery adds credence to the idea that many species of dinosaur, including velociraptors, were quite unlike the smooth-skinned hunters of the Jurassic Park movies but would have instead looked and behaved like large ground-dwelling birds with distinctive feather plumages.

"It will blow some people's minds to realize that those dinosaurs in the movies would have been even weirder, and I think even scarier - like big fluffy birds from hell," said Dr Steve Brusatte.
Because the new species was too heavy to be able to fly researchers now believe that its wings may have actually evolved as a display structure or as a way to help protect the eggs in its nest.

It's also possible that the wings helped the creatures glide from tree to tree in forest environments.

Whatever the case the new fossil has been hailed as particularly significant with Dr Brusatte describing it as "the single most beautiful fossil I have had the privilege to work on."

"This is the most exciting time maybe in the history of palaeontology," he said.

Source: BBC News | Comments (14)


Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #5 Posted by GreenmansGod 7 years ago
Great find WD. Last time I owned a bird I thought he was just a velociraptor in disguise. Mean little creatures.
Comment icon #6 Posted by Hammerclaw 7 years ago
What. Dinosauria appeared after the Permian extinction. Some of the earliest dinosaurs, such as Eoraptor, despite being theropod-like in appearance, cannot even be classified as basal theropods but rather as basal saurischians. Moreover, early theropopods, like Daemonosaurus, show no adaptations for flight and/or vestigial traits that would indicate an ancestral flying/gliding lifestyle. What? In 1993 paleontologist Paul Sereno and colleagues described Eoraptor and named the species, and determined it to be one of the earliest dinosaurs Its age was determined by several factors, not least beca... [More]
Comment icon #7 Posted by BeastieRunner 7 years ago
That looks like a mean SOB.
Comment icon #8 Posted by Hammerclaw 7 years ago
Alright. Lets say Eoraptor was indeed a basal theropod, not just a basal saurischian. Its place in the dinosaurian phylogenetic tree is debatable (perhaps it always will be). The thing is, my point that dinosauria appeared after the Permian extinction event, still stands. Also, as I said before, early theropods show no adaptations for flight whatsoever. Theropods have many birdlike features. The question I posit is whether birds acquired them from theropod ancestors, or did both theropods and the lineage that lead to true birds inherit them from a small arboreal common ancestor that radiated a... [More]
Comment icon #9 Posted by Hammerclaw 7 years ago
The way you phrased your question made it sound like theropods were already evolving into flying/avian forms before the Permian extinction. I don't think that we actually disagree. I didn't think we did. It's a fascinating topic and I'm enjoying our conversation.
Comment icon #10 Posted by TheGreatBeliever 7 years ago
Waiting for jurassic park
Comment icon #11 Posted by pewdsfan13 7 years ago
Fascinating
Comment icon #12 Posted by Zalmoxis 7 years ago
Looks like an insane and nasty chicken.
Comment icon #13 Posted by Athena1979 7 years ago
KFC anyone?
Comment icon #14 Posted by Anomalocaris 7 years ago
lol a dinosaur in a birds body seriously those things don't know theyre basically just horned turkey ostriches they think theyre still velociraptors o.0


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