One of Velociraptor's cousins had an armful of feathers, even if its arms were short, a new study finds. The newly discovered species, uncovered by farmers in China, lived during the Cretaceous period about 125 million years ago. Its anatomy, including its short arms, indicates that the dinosaur probably couldn't fly, but its feathers will help researchers learn about the plumage of dinosaurs. [Read the full story about Velociraptor's feathered cousin]
The preserved skeleton of feathered, short-armed dinosaur, Zhenyuanlong suni. (Image credit: Junchang Lü.)
An artist's interpretation of the newfound species of dinosaur, Zhenyuanlong suni. Like Velociraptor, it had sharp claws and teeth. (Image Credit: Chuang Zhao.)
This photo shows a close-up of the wing feathers on Zhenyuanlong suni. (Image credit: Junchang Lü.)
A detailed photo showing the wing feathers on the dinosaur's other arm. (Image credit: Junchang Lü.)
Skull and bones
The skull indicates that Zhenyuanlong suni had a relatively large brain. Its pointed teeth suggest that it fed on small mammals, reptiles and other dinosaurs.
"It would have been a pretty formidable," said study co-researcher Steve Brusatte, a paleontologist at the University of Edinburgh. (Image credit: Junchang Lü and Stephen Brusatte, Scientific Reports 2015.)
Steve Brusatte (left) and Junchang Lü (right), a professor at the Chinese Academy of Geological Sciences in Beijing, stand next to the fossil of the feathered dinosaur. (Image credit: Martin Kundrat.)
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Laura is the archaeology and Life's Little Mysteries editor at Live Science. She also reports on general science, including paleontology. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Scholastic, Popular Science and Spectrum, a site on autism research. She has won multiple awards from the Society of Professional Journalists and the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association for her reporting at a weekly newspaper near Seattle. Laura holds a bachelor's degree in English literature and psychology from Washington University in St. Louis and a master's degree in science writing from NYU.