A new “feathered Velociraptor” was unearthed in China

The feathery cousin of the beloved velociraptor
The feathery cousin of the beloved velociraptor
Image: Chuang Zhao
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The Velociraptors in Jurassic Park were pretty scary, but imagine how terrifying they would have been if they had wings?

Actually there’s no need to imagine—scientists from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland and the Chinese Academy of Geological Sciences have discovered (paywall) a new species of dinosaur in China that looks like a feathered, winged Velociraptor. Though feathered dinosaurs have been found before, this is the first time that feathers have been discovered on the wings and tail of such a large animal.

Researchers say this dinosaur is a cousin of the Velociraptor, and have named it Zhenyuanlong suni, which means “Zhenyuan Sun’s dragon,” after an individual who “secured the specimen for study.” It likely lived around 125 million years ago, and grew to be more than 5 feet in length.

“This new dinosaur is one of the closest cousins of Velociraptor, but it looks just like a bird. It’s a dinosaur with huge wings made up of quill pen feathers, just like an eagle or a vulture. The movies have it wrong—this is what Velociraptor would have looked like, too,” said Stephen Brusatte, a paleontologist at the University of Edinburgh and co-author of the study, in a press release.

Despite the fact that it has wings, this dinosaur probably couldn’t fly; researchers think these dinosaurs used their feathers and tails for display, the way peacocks do.