A newly discovered troodontid species is the earliest example of a bird-like dinosaur with asymmetric feathers—a physical trait associated with the evolution of flight. The new species, named Jianianhualong tengi, was described from a nearly complete skeleton with preserved feathers. The fossil dates from the Early Cretaceous period— approximately 100-145 million years ago—and was found in north-eastern China. This dinosaur was nearly a meter long, with a long frond-like tail, and asymmetric feathers on its front and hind limbs. Researchers can’t be certain that Jianianhualong tengi could fly; nevertheless, the presence of asymmetric feathers points to the development of aerodynamic features in bird ancestors earlier than previously thought.
Xing Xu, Philip Currie, Michael Pittman, Lida Xing, Qingjin Meng, Junchang Lü, Dongyu Hu & Congyu Yu
Philip Currie, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Original paper published in Nature Communications on May 2, 2017.