Velociraptor's cousin had large feathered wings



Researchers at the University of Edinburgh (Scotland) have uncovered the remarkably well preserved fossil of a close cousin of the famous velociraptor. Besides the fact that this discovery confirms that this family of dinosaurs was indeed covered with feathers, it also comes to raise a number of questions about the usefulness of the latter.

There are a few weeks, we were doing part of the lack of rigor of the saga Jurassic Park by revealing you a number of anachronisms and scientific approximations present in the license. Among these inconsistencies, including that contained the famous velociraptor appeared on the screen as a massive lizard, while the latest advances in paleontology tend to prove that the animal was actually covered with feathers. A fact which has also just find a new confirmation with the recent discovery of the fossil of a close cousin of velociraptor in Liaoning Province, China.

This new specimen meets the sweet name of “Zhenyuanlong suni” measuring almost two meters long and 40 kg and have lived there to this 125 million years, right during the Cretaceous period. “The fossil is so well preserved that we can see the feathers of a large part of his body, including a series of large feathers hung on his arm, ” said Steve Brusatte, a researcher at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, backed by the Site world. The “If you had seen Zhenyuanlong alive, I do not think you would have made ​​the difference between him and, say, a vulture” , he continued.

The fossil was indeed so well preserved that researchers have been able to reproduce with great accuracy the plumage of the animal. They have thus determined that it possessed impressive feathers in her arms, while her duvet was meant thinner at its back and tail.

However, although the analogy of a bird is tempting, paleontologist Steve Brussate recalls that size and small arms dinosaur distinguish avian species. Furthermore, according to scientists, feathers qu’arborait animals would in no case it used to fly, raising the same time some questions. “Why this animal he has wings  ? They serve him in any way to fly. It is too big and his arms are too short ” , told Steve Brussate.

While it is conceivable that this feathered dinosaur is one of the missing links of evolution that would have allowed his descendants to finally fly, Steve Brusatte does however not so sure. “Maybe they (note: Its feathers) served him to parade or to protect its eggs in the nest. And maybe these wings have not evolved for flight, but for another reason ” , explained the researcher. “There are some years, most paleontologists have said that dinosaurs, during their evolution, was with feathers and wings to help them fly. But now we are growing so safe ” .

Finally, the discovery of this fossil thus raises, for the moment, more questions than it allows to solve.