Microraptor is a small feathered dinosaur with a big story to tell. It is one of the 300 fossils found to date that hint at the evolutionary link between birds and dinosaurs. Its fore and hind legs were covered in long feathers designed for flight. These are true flight feathers as seen in modern birds. Less than a metre long and possessing a claw designed for climbing, Microraptor was at home in the forests of China.
Having climbed high into a tree, Microraptor would only have been capable of gliding from tree to tree by spreading its limbs to form two pairs of rudimentary wings. This ability would have helped it pursue prey or escape an enemy. Microraptor didn't have things all its own way, however, as its long feathers would have made it clumsy on the ground and therefore vulnerable to predators.
Scientific name: Microraptor
small one who seizes
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Additional data source: Animal Diversity Web
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Microraptor (Greek, μίκρος, mīkros: "small"; Latin, raptor: "one who seizes") was a genus of small, four-winged paravian (possibly dromaeosaurid) dinosaurs. Numerous well-preserved fossil specimens have been recovered from Liaoning, China. They date from the early Cretaceous Jiufotang Formation (Aptian stage), 125 to 120 million years ago. Three species have been named (M. zhaoianus, M. gui, and M. hanqingi), though further study has suggested that all of them represent variation in a single species, which is properly called M. zhaoianus. Cryptovolans, initially described as another four-winged dinosaur, is usually considered to be a synonym of Microraptor.
Like Archaeopteryx, well-preserved fossils of Microraptor provide important evidence about the evolutionary relationship between birds and dinosaurs. Microraptor had long pennaceous feathers that formed aerodynamic surfaces on the arms and tail but also, surprisingly, on the legs. This led paleontologist Xu Xing in 2003 to describe the first specimen to preserve this feature as a "four-winged dinosaur" and to speculate that it may have glided using all four limbs for lift. Subsequent studies have suggested that it is possible Microraptor were capable of powered flight as well.
Microraptor were among the most abundant non-avian dinosaurs in their ecosystem, and the genus is represented by more fossils than any other dromaeosaurid, with possibly over 300 fossil specimens represented across various museum collections.
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