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From Nature: "Fossil boosts trees-down start for flight"


>From the article:

The discovery in China of a remarkable dinosaur with birdlike
feathers on its hindlimbs and tail as well as its forelimbs will
re-ignite debate about the origins of birds, feathers and flight.

Xing Xu from the Institute of Vertebrate Palaeontology and
Palaeoanthropology in Beijing and his colleagues found six specimens
of the new, 77-cm-long dinosaur in the fossil beds of Liaoning
Province, in the north-east of China. They are believed to belong to
a new species - Microraptor gui - of the previously known genus

The researchers think that the animals lived between 124 and 145
million years ago in trees and used their two pairs of wings, limbs
outstretched, to glide between branches - much as flying squirrels,
though entirely unrelated, use inter-limb skin flaps to leap from
branch to branch.

The new specimens will certainly fuel the long-running argument about
precisely which group of extinct reptiles are birds' closest cousins.

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