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Zhenyuanlong, new feathered dromaeosaurid theropod from Early Cretaceous of China (free pdf)

Ben Creisler

A new paper in open access:

Junchang Lü & Stephen L. Brusatte (2015)
A large, short-armed, winged dromaeosaurid (Dinosauria: Theropoda)
from the Early Cretaceous of China and its implications for feather
Scientific Reports 5, Article number: 11775

The famous ‘feathered dinosaurs’ from the Early Cretaceous of Liaoning
Province, northeastern China, include several dromaeosaurids, which
are among the closest relatives of birds. Most of these are
small-bodied taxa with long arms and broad wings comprised of vaned
feathers, but a single specimen (the holotype of Tianyuraptor) belongs
to a much larger individual with reduced forelimbs, which
unfortunately lacks any preserved integument. We describe a new
specimen of large-bodied, short-armed Liaoning dromaeosaurid, which we
designate as a new genus and species, Zhenyuanlong suni. The
integument is well preserved and provides the first evidence of
feather morphologies and distribution in a short-armed (and probably
non-volant) dromaeosaurid, indicating that these rare and aberrant
taxa had large wings consisting of pennaceous feathers on the arms and
long pennaceous feathers on the tail very similar to their smaller and
longer-armed relatives, but potentially lacked vaned feathers on the
legs. Zhenyuanlong adds yet more diversity to the Liaoning
dromaeosaurid fauna, helps further reveal a distinct short-armed
bauplan among dromaeosaurids, and illuminates previously-unrecognized
homoplasy that complicates dromaeosaurid phylogeny and suggests that
the Liaoning taxa may not have formed their own clade.