Paleontology Paper Describes New Species of Microraptor

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

In a recent issue of Palaeoworld, KU paleontologists and colleagues describe a new species of Microraptor from northeastern China that provides new information on the characteristics of the genus and anatomical details suggesting a gliding behavior.

In the paper, "A new species of Microraptor from the Jehol Biota of northeastern China," the authors assert that although specimens of Microraptor have been known for at least a decade, the completeness of the new fossil provides additional morphology that highlights the uniqueness of this taxon. The new specimen, Microraptor hanqingi, is the key to understanding the evolutionary significance of hindlimb wings. A four-winged structure present on an organism sharing an evolutionary lineage leading to modern birds implies that gliding was a stage in the development of avian flight.

M. hanqingi represents the largest known microraptorian from China with a total length of approximately 1 meter and was closely-related to the venomous form, Sinornithosaurus.

The authors of the article are En-Pu Gong, Larry D.Martin, David A. Burnham, Amanda R.Falk, and Lian-HaiHou. The article was published in the June 2012 edition of Palaeoworld.

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