This Tiny Raptor Is One Of The Smallest Dinosaurs Ever Found

Raptors, with their sickle killer claws and incredible agility, are understandably one of the most well-known types of dinosaur. There are the most varieties than only Velociraptor back in the day, however and besides, these fearsome famous animals were perhaps no larger than a turkey.

If you want to strike fear into the hearts of your foes, go back in time and steal a megaraptor, some of which were 8 meters( 26 feet) from head to tail, and had sickle claws 30 centimeters( 12 inches) in length.

As revealed by a new study in the journal Vertebrata PalAsiatica, you could also get raptors that were small enough to be cradled in your arms like a strange feathered lizard baby.

Uncovered by researchers at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the freshly minted Zhongjianosaurus yangi may be one of the smallest non-avian dinosaurs ever discovered. It weighed only 310 grams( 11 ounces) and was just 70 centimeters( 28 inches) long from snout to tail. Based on its bone growth, it was clearly an adult , not a juvenile.

Possessing some considerable high levels of plumage, it actually had four wings and a feathered tail. This means that it could either glide or, perhaps, fly. When it was grounded, it strolled on highly wiry stilt-like legs.

All in all, the researchers consider it to be within the aptly named Microraptorinae evolutionary group.

A skeletal reconstruction of the new wee raptor. Xing& Zi-Chuan/ Vertebrata PalAsiatica

Dug up from an Early Cretaceous geological deposit in Liaoning in northeast China, it lived around 125 million years ago. During this time, flowering plants began to evolve and proliferate across the land, and Spinosaurus , a terrifying apex predator, predominated the shallow waterways.

This particular raptor comes from the unbelievably biodiverse paleoecosystem known as the Jehol biota, which includes everything living in the region from 133 to 120 million years ago. Innumerous dinosaur fossils, including a huge range of raptors, have been excavated that belong to this group, along with a cornucopia of flowers, mammalian ancestors, pterosaurs, and amphibians.

Back then, the environment was covered in trees, wetlands, and lakes, and things were a little more humid. This new microraptor likely chose to live in treetops. It was omnivorous, meaning that it expended its time feasting on a mixture of small animals, fish, fruit, and insects.

It coexisted with plenty of other dromaeosaurids, the overarching household of feathered, two-legged dinosaurs. The researchers make an analogy to Darwins Galapagos finches, which all evolved somewhat different feeding apparatuses in the same environment; this particular raptor probably stuck to certain types of food while letting its more sizeable cousins predate on larger serves of food.

These microraptors ultimately died out long before T. rex wandered the world 57 million years later but their pedigree survives today in the worlds unbelievable predatory birds.

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