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New fossil find confirms flight in dinosaurs

This shows Changyuraptor with (right) details of plumage.
This shows Changyuraptor with (right) details of plumage.
Credit: Photo by L. Chiappe, Dinosaur Institute, NHM Usage Restrictions: None

A newly discovered 125-million-year-old dinosaur has been claimed to be the final word in the disputed evolution of flight in dinosaurs before birds came into being. The new dinosaur species was a raptor. Dr. Luis Chiappe from Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County and an international team reported the discovery in the July 15, 2014, edition of the journal Nature Communications.

Changyuraptor yangi was four feet in length and is estimated to have weighed about nine pounds. The dinosaur was a microraptorine indicating the animal had feathers on all four legs. The feathers on the back legs give the appearance of being an extra set of wings. The feathers on the hind legs aided in flight but were not wings. The dinosaur had tail feathers that were one foot in length. These are the longest tail feathers ever seen in this type of dinosaur and are though to have aided the dinosaur in landing and flight control.

Changyuraptor yangi was found in the Liaoning Province of northeastern China. The animal is a true raptor. The site has been the heart of numerous recent feathered dinosaur discoveries. This region may have been the first area of the world where dinosaurs developed the ability to fly. The development of feathers followed by the development of feathers covering the entire body of some dinosaurs is thought to have been an evolutionary predisposition to flight.

The discovery of a raptor that was not only a true dinosaur but absolutely capable of flight is considered by the researchers to be the final proof that some dinosaurs could fly. The new fossil is expected to put to rest any argument that has been proposed that claims dinosaurs could not fly. At least one dinosaur has been found that did fly before birds as they are known at present had ever developed. The state of preservation of the fossil and the details of the feathers leave no doubt about dinosaurs being able to fly.