Who is fiercer, the raptor or the T. rex? There has always been competition of what dinosaur is the most dangerous and deadly. But the raptor may now have an edge.
A 125-million-year-old feathered raptorial dinosaur with four wings has been found, leading scientists to believe that the creature had flying capabilities. Named Changyuraptor yangi, the flying dinosaur is the largest four-winged dinosaur known to be found and has the longest feathers of any dinosaur, according to researchers.
Researchers including a palentologist from the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles discovered the fossilized remains of the Changyuraptor yangi in the Chinese province of Liaoning near the border of North Korea in 2012. They detailed the find in the journal Nature Communicatons.
"I've never seen anything like it," Luis Chiappe of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles said. "This is the dinosaur with the longest known feathers -- by far. There is nothing like this by a very good distance."
The creature's feathers measured about 12 inches long. Until now, the longest feathers found on a microraptorine were about seven inches, according to researchers. Overall, the predator was four feet long and nine pounds heavy. An analysis of the structure reveals that the dinosaur was a full-grown adult, with its bones being fully developed. Its arms and legs also had feathers.
The newly discovered dinosaur is a microraptorine, a group of predatory, feathered dinosaurs related to Velociraptor, and it is about 60 percent larger than the largest microraptorine known. The microraptorine fossils have been crucial for exploring different theories and explaining the origin of how early microraptorine creatures flew.
"It's surprising to think of Changyuraptor flying because it's so large, maybe the size of a peacock," Chiappe said.
Scientists believe that the creature relied on its tail for its flight and landings. Theories suggest that the Changyuraptor used its feathered tail to assure a safe landing and decrease descent speed. If more specimens are found in the future, researchers hope to further understand the dinosaur's flying capabilities.