A team of paleontologists has recently made an impressive discovery while loking for fossils in China. They discovered the fossilized skeleton of the largest prehistoric bird ancestor ever found. The prehistoric creature is close related to the infamous Velociraptor, but it looked more like a scary chicken than a dinosaur.
The new species of prehistoric bird ancestor was named Zhenyuanlong suni and it very much resembled a modern bird, according to the researchers who discovered it. Although the ancient creature lived more than 125 million years ago, its fossilized skeleton was discovered in a very well preserved condition. The dinosaur had wings that looked a lot like modern wings, covered in long feathers.
Steve Brusatte, one of the paleontologists who discovered the fossils, explained that the velociraptor actually had feathers on its body but no one really knows what they looked like exactly, since the fossilized remains found so far do not include feathers. The newly discovered prehistoric bird ancestor is believed to have lived close to lakes that were covered by volcano lava periodically. The researchers say the ancient creature helps them understand how the velociraptor really looked like.
Because there aren’t any fossils of velociraptors preserved in a good condition, the scientists don’t know how feathered the dinosaur really was. But the new one they discovered looked very much like modern birds, except for its big sharp teeth and claws.
Brusatte explained that the Zhenyuanlong dinosaur looked a lot like a bird. Its wings were very similar to the wings of modern vultures and eagles. He added that if the ancient creature lived today, it would be very hard to distinguish it from a turkey or an eagle.
However, the wings of the bird ancestor were not long enough to help it fly. That’s why the researchers believe that the creature probably descended from a flying dinosaur, but somehow lost its ability to fly and used its wings only for display.
Many species of modern birds that cannot fly use their wings for display and for attract mating partners. One of those species is the peacock, a bird that uses its complex colorful feathers for mating rituals. Brusatte said that dinosaurs with both arms and wings still remain a mystery and further research is needed to learn more about these strange creatures.
The paleontologists wrote a paper on the newly-discovered prehistoric bird ancestor and published it in the journal Scientific Reports.
Image Source: theguardian