This winged-dinosaur is so old, it lived 125 million years ago but extremely well-preserved! The fossil was so well-preserved that scientists were able to reconstruct its plumage! Beside being so old, it’s the biggest feathered dinosaur found. Found in Liaoning Province, China, its impressive name is Zhenyuanlong suni (I don’t know how scientists name them or the meaning but I like the sound of it)!
This article is from The Guardian (I had problems pasting the image and them showing up, so visit the source to see artist’s impression of this dinosaur), which also has a link to the journal, Scientific Reports, where the findings are published and of course, more details about this raptor. There, you can see additional images and read the original publication.
Zhenyuanlong suni: biggest ever winged dinosaur is found in China
An ancient feathered creature dug up in northeastern China is the largest winged dinosaur ever found, researchers say.
The fossil of the prehistoric raptor is so well preserved that scientists have been able to reconstruct its impressive plumage, from the tiny feathers on its head and neck, to the larger quill pen-like feathers that sprout from its tail and substantial wings.
A cousin of the velociraptor made famous by the Jurassic Park movies, the carnivore two metres in length lived 125m years ago in the region where dense forests became home to some of the first flowering plants.
Named Zhenyuanlong suni, the new species shared the land with a huge variety of other creatures. Dinosaurs were abundant, among them Yutyrannus huali, the “feathered tyrant”. On the ground beneath their feet lived salamanders, amphibians and plenty of mammals, including the badger-sized beast, repenomamus, which dined on dead dinosaurs.
The near complete skeleton of the feathered raptor was found in sedimentary rock that formed in ancient lake beds in China’s Liaoning Province. The Yixian formation there has become a treasure trove of exquisitely-preserved dinosaurs, many of which sported feathers.
“It’s the biggest dinosaur that has ever been found with wings,” said Steve Brusatte, a paleontologist at Edinburgh University. “In general it is very bird-like, but it’s big, and has these very short arms with full-blown wings.” Details of the discovery are published in the journal, Scientific Reports.
The specimen poses a conundrum for researchers, because despite its impressive wings, the animal was probably incapable of flight. Brusatte said their function was a mystery, but they might have been used in colourful sexual displays, just as peacocks parade their tail feathers to court peafowls. Another possibility is that the dinosaur used its wings to protect its eggs.
The discovery raises broader questions about how wings evolved in the first place. Small, fluffy feathers are thought to have arisen for warmth, with more elaborate feather structures emerging for displays, and ultimately flight.
But Brusatte said that wings themselves might have evolved for reasons other than flight, before they helped creatures take to the skies.
“When you see a dinosaur like this that’s pretty big, and has these short arms and bird-like wings, it begs that question: what are wings really for? We used to think pretty much anything that had wings was flying, but that’s not so clear now,” he said.
*The link before it is to a series called First Peoples. (Be cautioned that videos on this site usually have expiration dates, however, at the moment, it doesn’t say the expiration date, so you can still watch it for free!) You will learn so, so, so, so, so, so much from watching this series about the first homo sapiens and how they interacted with neanderthals, and how we came us. Super duper cool!