A near-complete fossil specimen, including feathers, of a dinosaur in China has been named Zhenyuanlong suni. It was about five feet long and closely related to Velociraptor.
Claim to fame: Feathers didn’t evolve for flight. They allowed it. Paleontologists have recognized this since the 1970s, at least, and numerous discoveries of non-flying dinosaurs covered with fluff, bristles, and other types of wispy integument have confirmed that feathers and their forerunners must have had functions outside the aerodynamic realm. Described by Junchang Lü and Stephen Brusatte, the dinosaur Zhenyuanlong adds to that picture with its extravagant coat of feathers.
It’s possible that Zhenyuanlong suni, which scientists believe was flightless, may have evolved from earlier flying creatures. Read more about this unique feathered dinosaur at Lealaps.
(Image credit: Zhao Chuang)