FINE feathers don't necessarily make fine birds, they say - but a new dinosaur species has been discovered by an international team of scientists who say its very long tail feathers may well have been used for regulating flight, and are therefore evidence of its bird-like ability.
The team, led by by palaeontologist
The fossil of the 125-million-year-old predator dinosaur, Changyuraptor yangi, was found in the
Traditionally, Archaeopteryx was considered the transitional link between non-avian dinosaurs and modern birds. First discovered in fossil form in a limestone quarry in
Since then, and particularly in the
Features linking theropod dinosaurs to birds include a furcula (wishbone), air-filled bones, brooding of eggs and feathers.
Some of these theropods, or "microraptorine dinosaurs", were known as the "four-winged dinosaurs" because their long feathers attached to the legs had the appearance of a second set of wings, Chinsamy-Turan explained.
The newly discovered species has a full set of feathers cloaking its body, including the extra-long tail feathers.
The team's findings, published yesterday in the journal,
Chinsamy-Turan said the creature had at least five years' growth. "We propose that its long tail - 30cm - helped to keep it airborne and could have assisted with landing."
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