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|Sinosauropteryx prima |
"First Chinese Dragon Feather"
|A brief fact sheet on Sinosauropteryx|
The longest feather-filaments were 1.5 inches long (3.8 cm). These filaments were probably used for heat insulation and were not used for flying.
It had two short fore-limbs (arms), and many sharp teeth. It ate meat like other theropods, and probably preyed upon small animals and insects. It also had a very long tail, the longest (relative to its size) of any theropod - the tail had 64 vertebrae. This tail was probably used for balance and for making quick turns.
Sinosauropteryx was a meat-eater and is the only dinosaur that has been found with a mammal in its stomach. Only the jawbone of this unidentified mammal was found in the Sinosauropteryx gut.
Sinosauropteryx was found by Chinese farmers, including Li Yin Fang, in 1996 in the dry countryside near Liaoning Province, China. This area would later yield other important bird-like dinosaur finds, including Caudipteryx, Protarchaeopteryx, and also many specimens of Confuciusornis sanctus, an early bird about 120 million years old.
Three complete skeletons of Sinosauropteryx have been found, including trace fossils of small fibers (protofeathers), stomach contents, unlaid eggs, and some internal organs.
BIRDS AND DINOSAURS
The existence of Sinosauropteryx lends credence to the theory that the birds are descended from theropod dinosaurs and not from four-legged arboreal (tree living) reptiles.
OTHER FEATHERED DINOSAURS
Two new Chinese feathered dinosaurs dating from between 145 and 125 million years ago (during the late Jurassic and early Cretaceous periods) have been found in the same area of China. These fossils, Caudipteryx zoui and the more primitive Protarchaeopteryx robusta have features which are more dinosaur-like than bird-like and are considered to be theropod dinosaurs. Their feathers were symmetrical, which indicate that they could not fly (flightless birds have symmetrical feathers while those that fly have asymmetrical ones). These finds reinforce the theory that birds are descended from dinosaurs.
Sinosauropteryx belonged to the:
(and Other Prehistoric Creatures)
For brief dinosaur fact sheets, click here.
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