Photos - Velociraptor's New Winged Ancestor in Perfectly Preserved Fossils

Photos - Velociraptor's New Winged Ancestor in Perfectly Preserved Fossils

In China, new fossils discovered of an ancient, winged dinosaur that is closely related to velociraptor.

Despite being one of the most iconic extinct animals to grace the silver screen, velociraptor looked nothing like the way Jurassic Park and its sequels portrayed it.

A majority of paleontologists now agree, the Cretaceous killing machine and all-around "clever girl" was covered in brightly colored feathers - and it was about the size of a turkey.

A new fossilized specimen out of China provides even more evidence to support the "feathered dinosaur" theory. Perfectly preserved in limestone, Zhenyuanlong - meaning "Zhenyuan's dragon," in honor of the man who brought the fossil to the museum in Jinzhou - was a close relative of velociraptor, living about 125 million years ago, or 50 million years before the cinematic dinosaur. Zhenyuanlong was 6 feet, 6 inches long, covered in obvious feathers - and it had wings.

Read: More dinosaur news from the Escapist

"Proper wings, with quill-pen feathers, layers upon layers of them," says lead researcher Dr Steve Brusatte. He adds that although fossils of velociraptor have shown evidence of feathers, none have been so well preserved as Zhenyuanlong. According to Brusatte, Zhenyuanlong is "the single most beautiful fossil I have had the privilege to work on."

See the study in the journal, Nature.

"This is a really good look at what velociraptor would have looked like, genuinely, in life, it would have been a fluffy, big bird type of dinosaur."

It is becoming increasingly likely that most dinosaurs, from triceratops to tyrannosaurus, had feathers.

This is a very exciting time for paleontology. New discoveries are being made regularly, especially in China and Canada. Strange animals are being uncovered. Recent hit film Jurassic World, for all its lack of feathers, has renewed interest in the study of dinosaurs.

In the gallery below, you can take a look yourself at the feather details preserved in limestone:

In spite of the wings, the Chinese dromaeosaurid (the family that contains raptors, among others) was probably too heavy to fly. Instead, behavioral paleontologists suggest it may have used the wings to protect its nest, create a display, or maybe even glide.

Still, Zhenyuanlong fits nicely into the evolution of modern birds. Today's avians began as close cousins to the dromaeosaurids, and Zhenyuan's dragon gives us a glimpse at what they may have looked like, and how early they developed the features we now know them for.

Velociraptor may not have been the crocodilian, man-sized terror we imagined it to be in the early 1990s, but don't let that put you at ease - it is likely the dinosaur we saw in theatres was based on its larger cousins, deinonychus or the enormous Utahraptor . Velociraptor, in the end, was just a cooler name.

Source: Nature, BBC

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So Microraptor then. We just found another animal almost exactly like Microraptor but a bit bigger and decided to make a huge deal out of it.

Whoopee.

Also, "feathered dinosaur theory?" How quaint.

Now the important questions: could they talk? And could you train them to run in pack-formation behind a motorcycle?

RJ 17:
Now the important questions: could they talk? And could you train them to run in pack-formation behind a motorcycle?

I don't see why not.

Falconers can get their Peregrine Falcons to fly in formation with Skydivers, so why would a Velociraptor running together with someone on a motorbike be so far-fetched?

PatrickJS:
Velociraptor may not have been the crocodilian, man-sized terror we imagined it to be in the early 1990s, but don't let that put you at ease - it is likely the dinosaur we saw in theatres was based on its larger cousins, deinonychus or the enormous Utahraptor . Velociraptor, in the end, was just a cooler name.

Most likely the Achillobator. Closer in size than Deinonychus or Utahraptor.

aka tiny feathered dragons

and now I have to link this as proof feathers don't ruin dinosaurs.

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAUUUUUUUGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!

*Clears throat*

I mean uhh...well, this is certainly...facinating. I'm sure we have alot to learn from thi- GET AWAY, geneticists! AWAY! No filling in the blanks! No cloning! No breeding! None of that!

*Cracks whip at a group of rabid scientists*

bigfatcarp93:
So Microraptor then. We just found another animal almost exactly like Microraptor but a bit bigger and decided to make a huge deal out of it.

Whoopee.

Also, "feathered dinosaur theory?" How quaint.

Yes theory, much like how evolution is still called the theory of evolution.

Just because someone calls it a theory, doesn't mean they're scoffing at the idea. That's how scientific discoveries and whatnot are labeled

Scientific Theory

SpAc3man:
Most likely the Achillobator. Closer in size than Deinonychus or Utahraptor.

Oh, good catch. Hadn't even heard of that one before!

Lost In The Void:
Yes theory, much like how evolution is still called the theory of evolution.

Hehe, thanks for the backup!

Has the fossil been examined by any western paleontologists? China has a bit of a history of fossil forgery.

This is a perfect example of what most people don't get.
Evolution is not humanity's friend.
Dinosaurs used to have wings! What will it take from us?!?

 

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