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Changyuraptor, new big microraptorine theropod from Early Cretaceous of China



Ben Creisler
bcreisler@gmail.com

A new paper:

Gang Han, Luis M. Chiappe, Shu-An Ji, Michael Habib, Alan H. Turner,
Anusuya Chinsamy, Xueling Liu & Lizhuo Han (2014)
A new raptorial dinosaur with exceptionally long feathering provides
insights into dromaeosaurid flight performance.
Nature Communications 5, Article number: 4382
doi:10.1038/ncomms5382
http://www.nature.com/ncomms/2014/140715/ncomms5382/full/ncomms5382.html


Microraptorines are a group of predatory dromaeosaurid theropod
dinosaurs with aerodynamic capacity. These close relatives of birds
are essential for testing hypotheses explaining the origin and early
evolution of avian flight. Here we describe a new ‘four-winged’
microraptorine, Changyuraptor yangi, from the Early Cretaceous Jehol
Biota of China. With tail feathers that are nearly 30 cm long, roughly
30% the length of the skeleton, the new fossil possesses the longest
known feathers for any non-avian dinosaur. Furthermore, it is the
largest theropod with long, pennaceous feathers attached to the lower
hind limbs (that is, ‘hindwings’). The lengthy feathered tail of the
new fossil provides insight into the flight performance of
microraptorines and how they may have maintained aerial competency at
larger body sizes. We demonstrate how the low-aspect-ratio tail of the
new fossil would have acted as a pitch control structure reducing
descent speed and thus playing a key role in landing.

News stories:

http://www.slate.com/blogs/wild_things/2014/07/15/largest_flying_dinosaur_four_wings_on_changyuraptor_kept_it_from_crash_landing.html