It looks kind of like Big Bird’s slightly smaller and more colorful cousin, except for the mouth full of razor-sharp teeth, that is.
Paleontologists recently discovered an extremely well preserved skeleton of a new species of dinosaur in northeastern China. This new dinosaur had wings, feathers and sharp teeth. It has been named Zhenyuanlong suni, and recent research on the new dino was published in the academic journal Scientific Reports on July 16th.
This specimen of Z. suni weighed in at close to 25 pounds and stood around five foot tall. Of note, the name of the dinosaur translates phonetically in Chinese to “fluffy feathered poodle from hell”.
More on study on feathered velociraptors
“Look at Zhenyuanlong and you’re probably seeing, more or less, what a real Velociraptor would have looked like,” study lead author Stephen Brusatte said in a recent interview. “Velociraptor would have been a feisty little feathered poodle from hell, not a drab scaly reptilian monster like in the Jurassic Park films.”
Brusatte is a paleontologist at the University of Edinburgh’s School of GeoSciences. The co-author of the study is paleontologist Junchang Lüof of the Chinese Academy of Geological Sciences.
Zhenyuanlong is a member of the carnivorous raptor family and is a cousin of the velociraptor, which actually lived about 40 or 50 million years later. This giant bird creature was terrorizing the neighborhood around 125 million years ago in the early Cretaceous Period.
“Zhenyuanlong was a dinosaur that really looked like a bird,” Brusette, who collaborated with Chinese paleontologist Junchang Lü, told Reuters. “You wouldn’t think of it differently than a turkey or an emu or a big chicken.”
Zhenyuanlong has long wings look similar to those of an eagle or vulture. Zheny’s wings, however, were not likely used for flight.
“It’s a fairly big raptor, and its arms are so short in proportion to its body,” Brusatte notes. “I have a hard time believing that it could fly or glide or do anything in the air.”
It’s large wings were probably only used to attract mates and intimidate rivals, much like modern day peacocks.