Off the back of the box-office hit Jurassic World comes a new discovery in the paleontology world. A study from the University of Edinburgh has just revealed that velociraptors might actually have had feathers on its wings.
A new dinosaur called the Zhenyuanlong suni, a small to medium sized creature that was a close cousin of the velociraptor, was found in China recently and is reported to have a set of feathers and complex, multi-layered wings in its fossilised remains. These feathered creatures would have walked the earth about 125 million years ago.
These fossils were discovered in Liaoning province in China where many fossils of feathered dinosaurs were unearthed. This new dinosaur is said to have looked like a bird with “huge wings made up of quill pen feathers, just like an eagle or a vulture,” says Steve Brusatte of the University of Edinburgh’s School of GeoSciences. This indicates that within the raptor family, there may be other flightless species that could have had feathers too.
Other smaller species recently discovered had long forelimbs and feathered wings, which indicates flight abilities. However, studies of larger species have yielded different results: bigger species of the group were found to have shorter forelimbs, which are not suited for flight.
Within the paleontology world, the debate of whether or not dinosaurs had feathers continues. With the new discovery that raptors may have had feathers, scientists have restarted the discussion. And if dinosaurs had feathers, sciences are on a quest to find out why. If feathers were first introduced for warmth or decoration, they may have later been adapted to also allow them to fly. This could mean that other dinosaurs could have had feathers too, and that the Jurassic franchise had gotten it all wrong! Instead of bulky, hairless dinosaurs, there should be a whole array of feathered creatures roaming in the park!