Velociraptors might have looked like “big fluffy birds from hell”, that couldn’t fly, according to research based on a new fossil.
Palaeontologists in China have found a close relative of the Velociraptor that has a well-preserved set of bird-like wings — and may have been just about to evolve into a bird. The skeleton is nearly complete and could offer clues to what Velociraptors actually looked like.
Far from the scaly-looking dinosaurs of Jurassic Park, they might instead have looked much weirder — like “big fluffy birds from hell” lead researcher Steve Brusatte told the BBC.
The new find has wings with properly-layered feathers, the team reports. Though it is a dinosaur, it looks more like a turkey or vulture, the team said.
Dr Steve Brusatte, of the University of Edinburgh's school of geosciences, who co-authored the study, said: "This new dinosaur is one of the closest cousins of Velociraptor, but it looks just like a bird.
"It's a dinosaur with huge wings made up of quill pen feathers, just like an eagle or a vulture. The movies have it wrong - this is what Velociraptor would have looked like too."
1861: A hugely important fossil, this 147-million-year-old rock slab contains the remains of the earliest known bird. With its combination of bird and dinosaur characteristics, it is a famous snapshot of evolution in action. It's early discovery has since been queried as more complete examples were found (as above).
2/6 Ida - The Link
1983: Ida - a tiny 47-million-year-old fossil - was discovered at the Messel Pit southeast of Frankfurt am Main in Germany. But it was only in May 2009 that she was introduced to the world, at the head of a whirlwind publicity campaign as the supposed "missing link" in human evolution.
3/6 Australopithecus sediba
2010: A partial cranium which belonged to human ancestor Australopithecus sediba, which was unearthed from a pit in South Africa
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2010: The discovery of the fossil of the Darwinopterus filled a 155 million-year evolutionary gap
5/6 Fossil fight
2013: 'Astounding' fossil find from Montana revealing two dinosaurs locked in mortal combat
6/6 Ichthyosaur graveyard
2014: One of the 46 fossils found at the site in southern Chile
The new find was dug up in China, and has been named Zhenyuanlong suni — Zhenyuan's dragon — after the man who found the fossil and brought it to be studied.
Professor Junchang Lu, of the Institute of Geology, Chinese Academy of Geological Sciences, who led the study, said: "The western part of Liaoning Province in China is one of the most famous places in the world for finding dinosaurs.
"The first feathered dinosaurs were found here and now our discovery of Zhenyuanlong indicates that there is an even higher diversity of feathered dinosaurs than we thought. It's amazing that new feathered dinosaurs are still being found."
Researchers have published their findings in the journal Scientific Reports.Reuse content