The largest "four-winged" dinosaur on record was dug up by scientists in northeastern China recently, providing new details about the early origins of flight.
Officially dubbed the Changyuraptor yangi, the creature roamed the planet — and the air — some 125 million years ago, according to The Washington Post.
With feathers tacked onto the back of its hind legs, it gave the illusion of a "four-winged" dinosaur.
Its tail features measured an incredible foot in length, while the overall specimen was about 4-feet-long and weighed roughly 9 pounds.
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"I’ve never seen anything like it," lead researcher Luis Chiappe of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles told The Post. "It is a stunning specimen and it was stunning to see the size of the feathers. This is the dinosaur with the longest known feathers — by far. There is nothing like this by a very good distance. The feathers were one-fourth the size of the animal. It's just wonderful."
Though it's not yet clear whether the four-winged dinosaur actually flew or just glided, researchers determined that its long tail helped it from crashing when coming in for a landing.
"They may well all be using the tail to do the same thing in the same way," David Hone, a University of Bristol paleontologist who was not involved in the four-winged dinosaur study, told USA Today
of the Changyuraptor's gliding ability. "If you don't have enough control, you smack into that tree branch or miss it entirely and plummet quickly into the ground. [If] you can slow down and steer . . . it can really make all the difference in the world."
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