The first dinosaur with feathers on both its arms and tail

A reconstruction of the new short-armed and winged feathered dinosaur Zhenyuanlong suni. Image: Chuang Zhao

A new species of feathered dinosaur, a close relative of birds, has been discovered with feathers on both its arms and tail.

While other similar dinosaurs have been found, there was no evidence to suggest they had feathers on these limbs.

However, this specimen looked more like a bird with large feathered wings. The dinosaur lived in the Early Cretaceous, about 125 million years ago.

The skeleton of the new short-armed and winged feathered dinosaur Zhenyuanlong. Image: Junchang Lü

The short-armed, feathered dromaeosaurid dinosaur, found in the Liaoning Province, northeastern China, is reported in the journal Scientific Reports.

Most dromaeosaurids were about the size of a house cat or medium-sized dog.

The new fossil called Zhenyuanlong, and described by Junchang Lü of the Ministry of Land and Resources of China and Stephen Brusatte of the University of Edinburgh, is only the second reported with short arms.

Dr Steve Brusatte, of the University of Edinburgh’s School of GeoSciences, says this new dinosaur is one of the closest cousins of Velociraptor but it looks just like a bird.

“It’s a dinosaur with huge wings made up of quill pen feathers, just like an eagle or a vulture. The movies have it wrong – this is what Velociraptor would have looked like too.”

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