The Four-winged dinosaur

Reply Wed 16 Jul, 2014 05:17 am
In the dinosaur kingdom, the raptor reigns as a pop-culture bogeyman. While not as big as the T. Rex, the feathered creature had a mean set of teeth and claws. But there was at least one refuge from its tyranny: the air.

Now, however, scientists have discovered a new fossil that lays waste to that pleasant fiction. This new raptorial dinosaur named Changyuraptor yangi not only flew — it had four wings. And those wings were studded with the longest feathers any dinosaur has ever worn, said lead researcher Luis Chiappe of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles.

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” he told The Washington Post. “It is a stunning specimen and it was stunning to see the size of the feathers. This is the dinosaur with the longest known feathers — by far. There is nothing like this by a very good distance. The feathers were one-fourth the size of the animal.” Chiappe paused for a moment. “It’s just wonderful,” he said.

In the pantheon of hulking dinos, this one wasn’t on the larger side. Published in the scientific journal Nature Communications on Tuesday, the article by Chiappe and colleagues reported it was only about four feet long and weighed about nine pounds — approximately three times the weight of your everyday seagull. But what it lacked in size, it made up for in importance, researchers said.

Classed as a “microraptorine,” its fossils “are essential for testing hypotheses explaining the origin and early evolution of avian flight,” the paper stated. “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.”

Changyuraptor with (right) details of plumage. New Feathered Predatory Fossil Sheds Light on Dinosaur Flight has been discovered in China. A “Four-Winged” Fossil Helps Explain How Larger-Bodied Dinosaurs Took to the Air. (Luis Chiappe/ Courtesy of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County)
Changyuraptor fossil, left, with details of plumage, right. (Luis Chiappe/ Courtesy of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County)
This dinosaur’s flight and landings hinged on its tail. Animals of more substantial size fly faster, making landing a treacherous business. The Changyu — which means “long-feathered” in Chinese — handled this problem with a feathered tail “instrumental for decreasing descent speed and assuring a safe landing,” the study explained. As Chiappe, who first glimpsed the bones in 2012 in Beijing, told Slate, such landings were similar to the “way you land in a plane.” Changyuraptors “needed to slow down and pitch their nose up. Otherwise, they would crash.”

It’s a matter of debate whether the creature glided or flapped. Chiappe’s money is on the latter. “Everyone agrees they were capable of becoming airborne somehow — and I think they took off from the ground flapping,” he said. “They couldn’t have been able to climb trees like that.”

The northeast Chinese region of Liaoning where the fossils were found is a region renowned for its exceptionally well-preserved fossils, the study said. Numerous feathered — but non-avian — dinos were found there, which “cemented the notion that birds evolved from theropod dinosaurs.”

“This was an unexpected discovery,” Chiappe told The Post. “But it plays a role in the early junction in the evolution of flight.”

Terrence McCoy is a foreign affairs writer at the Washington Post. He served in the U.S. Peace Corps in Cambodia and studied international politics at Columbia University. Follow him on Twitter here.
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Reply Wed 16 Jul, 2014 05:59 am
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Reply Wed 16 Jul, 2014 09:47 am
While driving around this morning, I puzzled over the four wings. Wondered if maybe one set could be for lifting and propulsion and the other set for stabilization and gliding. I have a very small brain and therefore reached no conclusion.
Reply Wed 16 Jul, 2014 09:53 am
It looks like an eagle wearing an Elvis outfit!

I would imagine that you're right, edgar, especially if they're hunting in the air. Twisting and turning would slow it down and turn on a sixpence as and when necessary.

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Reply Wed 16 Jul, 2014 11:48 am
I would like to see that tail swishing around.
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Reply Wed 16 Jul, 2014 12:54 pm
The hind wings appear to be more leg-like than wing-like. True, they do have some feathers on them, but since the legs are so large the feathers may help them become more aerodynamic rather than actually provide lift.
Reply Wed 16 Jul, 2014 12:55 pm
Ah, you may be on to something.
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Reply Sat 26 Jul, 2014 07:58 am
And many people still blind with the clear as crystal biblical claim that birds and fish were created first before mamals.

The T-Rex was also a "big chicken", another creature with feathers.

Rather than "evolution" the process of life on earth is "degeneration" where species lose more characteristics against winning new ones. The theory of "evolution" which was idealized with this name "evolution" was created with the intent of proving that new species came from inferior, worst and simpler ancestors to become superior, better and more complex species. The theory failed and was changed in the 70's by a "Neo Darwinian theory of evolution". Still, this theory fails again with the idea of man as descendant of an ape. No doubt that evolutionists are complete ignorant.

Reality is that the bible is right when states that the earth is decaying, and by consequence everything in this planet decays as well.

Look at the former birds, with teeth by lots, some with capability to fly and others just walking on earth, but they were birds. The off springs, the current birds, lost the big teeth and degenerate into creatures with beaks.

The more a species loses more characteristics throughout generations, the more the theory of evolution is proved false as a 7 dollars bill.

The four winged dinosaur is the solid evidence that the bible carries more science than the so called theory of evolution. Lol.

Reply Sat 26 Jul, 2014 05:12 pm
What looney bin did you escape from?
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