It has been discovered that in the fossil of a fierce little Chinese dinosaur dubbed, the "dancing dragon", which is supposed to be an older cousin of the Velociraptor, has indicated to the scientists that feathers grew differently on dinosaurs than on birds.
'The new dinosaur fits in with an incredible radiation of feathered, winged animals that are closely related to the origin of birds, ' said Dr. Ashley Poust, who analyzed the specimen while he was a student at Montana State University. Wulong, Chinese for "dancing dragon", was named after the ingenious pose of the fossil conserved in an impressive way.
Wulong used to be bigger than a crow and smaller than a raven, acknowledged researchers, but its lengthy, bony tail doubled its length. Its bones were thin and small, and the animal was covered with feathers, including a wing-like array on both its arms and legs and two long plumes at the end of its tail. Wulong's closest identified relative would were Microraptor, a puny, four-winged dinosaur.
Jehol Biota, the site where the fossil was found, covers the northern part of Hebei Province, western part of Liaoning Province and southeast part of Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region and is known for the diversity of its plant and animal fossils. Poust, who is the lead researcher of the new study, said that "This is quite different from living birds and tells us that these decorative feathers preceded adulthood in dinosaurs".
The one-of-a-kind specimen offers a window into what the earth was like 120 million years ago.
This discovery is extremely important not only because it talks about a dinosaur that's new to science but also because it highlights the connection between birds and dinosaurs.
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Examining several bones from the Wulong specimen, Poust and colleagues determined that despite its mature-looking feathers, this particular dancing dinosaur was, in fact, a juvenile - roughly a year old. However pretty the fossil was, Poust and his colleagues needed to perform bone histology, which involved cutting up some of its bones and examining them under a microscope.
The fossil of the fresh dinosaur is alongside a line drawing of the skeleton and a stop-up of the tail feathers.
To work out the details, the team compared the remains to samples of a dinosaur from the Sinornithosaurus genus. As a result, Poust says there's still a great deal to learn about dinosaurs.
"We're talking about animals that lived twice as long ago as T. rex, so it's pretty fantastic how well preserved they are", says Poust. The dinosaur is from the early Cretaceous period and was discovered in one of the richest fossil deposits in the world, the Jehol biota.
The research has been published in the scientific journal, The Anatomical Record. "As we continue to mediate about more about the fluctuate of these puny animals it becomes attention-grabbing how all of them might presumably perhaps contain match into the ecosystem ..." "It was an alien world, but with some of the earliest feathers and earliest flowers, it would have been a pretty one".