Microraptor (Small thief)
Microraptor (Small thief)
Named By : Xu Xing et al - 2000
Diet : Carnivore
Size : Estimated 1 meters long
Type of Dinosaur : Small Theropod
Type Species : M. zhaoianus (type), M. gui, M. hanqingi
Found in : China, Liaoning Province
When it Lived : Early Cretaceous, 125-122 million years ago
Microraptor is a genus that includes small, four-winged dinosaurs. Many well-preserved fossils have been found in China’s Liaoning. These fossils date back to the 120 million year old Cretaceous Jiufotang Formation (Aptian Stage) M. zhaoianus and M. gui were the three species that were initially named, but further research has shown that they all represent variation within a single species. This species is M. zhaoianus. Cryptovolans was originally described as another four-winged dinosaur. It is now often considered to be a synonym for Microraptor.
Microraptor fossils, which are well preserved and can be found in Archaeopteryx’s collection, provide valuable evidence of the evolutionary relationship between birds & earlier dinosaurs. The long pennaceous feathers of Microraptor formed aerodynamic surfaces not only on the arms, tail, but also on the legs. In 2003, Xu Xing, a paleontologist, described the first specimen to have this feature and speculated that it might have used all four limbs to lift. Studies that followed have shown that Microraptor could also fly powered.
David W. E. Hone, Helmut Tischlinger, Xing Xu, Fucheng Zhang, CC BY 2.5, via Wikimedia Commons
Microraptor was one of the most common non-avialan dinosaurs found in the ecosystem. The genus has more fossils than any other dromaeosaurid genus, with over 300 specimens spread across different museum collections.
Microraptor was a non-avian dinosaur that measured in at 77 cm (2.53 ft). It weighed up to 1 kg (2.2 lb) when it was an adult. Holtz put it at 90 cm (3.0 ft). An estimate by Benson et al. Microraptor was measured at 1.2m (3.9 ft) in 2012. Microraptor, aside from their small size, were the first non-avialan dinosaurs to be able to take impressions of feathers or wings. Seven M. zhaoianus specimens have been detailed, and most of the feather impressions are now known. Microraptor, which is unusual among feathered dinosaurs and early birds, has long flight feathers on both the legs and the wings. Their bodies were covered in feathers and had a fan-shaped fan at the tail. This may have been to provide stability while flying. Xu et al. (2003) compared Microraptor’s longer plumes to the plumes of the Philippine eagle. Some specimens have bands of light and dark that may be indicative of color patterns in their lives. However, some individuals were almost certain to have an iridescent-black coloration. Microraptor shares many anatomical characteristics with primitive avians as well as primitive troodontids, including a combination unserrated and partially serrated tooth with constrictive ‘waists’ and unusually long upper arms bones. Hwang et. al. 2002 described two M. zhaoianus specimens and Microraptor was found to be very similar. This is not surprising considering that Microraptor as well as Sinovenator are primitive members of two closely related groupings, and both are close at the deinonychosaurian splitting between dromaeosaurids, and troodontids.