Dragon-Like, Feathered Dinosaur Was Ace Flyer
Microraptor had wings that allowed it to turn on a dime.
by Amanda Feigl
Why would a dinosaur with a body built for running have four wings and a long, feathered tail—and how did it use them? Paleontologists have long puzzled over the dragon-like anatomy of the tiny, carnivorous dinosaur called Microraptor that hunted in the forests of China 130 million years ago.
Finally, anatomists think they’ve found an answer: This crow-size dromaeosaur was a master of control. Whether it was gliding or flapping through the air, its hind wings would have let it turn on a dime.
“In terms of aerodynamics, the hind wings would have increased its rate of turn by 33 to 50 percent, compared to using only the front wings,” said Michael Habib of the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, who co-presented the research at an annual meeting of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology in Raleigh, North Carolina, last month…
(read more: National Geo) (image: David Krentz)