Scientists have found that the menacing velociraptors shown in the move Jurassic Park and its recent sequel don’t represent the actual creature. They have come to this conclusion after discovering a relative of this dinosaur with gigantic feathery wings.
The creatures, scientifically referred to as Zhenyuanlong suni, used to have a 5 ft long body when fully grown. However, they were not even half as big as the ferocious predators showcased in the first film of the Jurassic Park franchise in 1993 and then again in Jurassic World, the most recent release of the series.
Unlike what’s shown in the movies mentioned above, the prehistoric animals didn’t have smooth, lizard-like skin. Seeing the perfectly fossilized wings carrying visible feathers, scientists have come to the conclusion that their body used to be covered in bright plumage. However, the researchers have also concluded that in spite of boasting wings, the animals couldn’t fly.
It’s still unclear what exactly the functions of these short wings were. Some experts say that the animal might have had ancestors that could fly and the wings they had were meant just for display purposes.
The study’s coauthor Dr. Steve Brusatte stated that although this newfound species of dinosaur is a close relative of the velociraptors, it looks exactly like a bird. Dr. Brusatte works at the University of Edinburgh’s School of Geo Sciences.
Dr. Brusatte added that like modern-day vultures and eagles, this cousin of velociraptors had gigantic wings of quill pen feathers. He confirmed that the velociraptors shown in the movies are not exactly what the animals actually looked like.
Over the years, paleontologists have come to know about several dino species that had feathers. However, the majority of those animals, according to the experts, had bodies covered with hair-like filaments instead of modern feathers.
This new species unearthed in China’s Liaoning Province, in contrast, belonged to a group of carnivores known for having feathered bodies. These carnivores used to live in the Cretaceous era i.e. nearly 125 million years back.
The study was led by Prof. Junchang Lu, a representative of the Institute of Geology, Chinese Academy of Geological Sciences. He informed that