A team of researchers in China recently found a new species of dinosaur,
and it might be the oldest link between dinosaurs and modern birds. The
paleontologists discovered the 125-million-year-old fossil in Lionaning,
China. The ancient animal was three-feet long, covered in feathers, and
sported a mouthful of teeth.
The new species has been named Jianianhualong tengi. Scientists
announced its discovery in a study published on May 2 in Nature
Jianianhualong tengi is a type of troodontid, which is a family of
bird-like dinosaurs related to the modern-day birds. Researchers are
unsure if Jianianhualong tengi could fly. But the well-preserved
fossilized remains indicate that it had feathers that were not
symmetrical, or longer on one side than the other. This is a key element
in the evolution of animal flight.
“Asymmetrical feathers have been associated with flight capability, but
are also found in species that do not fly, and their appearance was a
major event in feather evolution,” the authors write in the study.
Paleontologists first discovered that dinosaurs sported feathers with
the 1861 discovery of the Archaeopteryx, a different type of bird-like
But according to the new study, the Jianianhualong tengi “has the
earliest known asymmetrical troodontid feathers,” suggesting that
dinosaurs may have exhibited bird-like traits earlier than previously
“It is widely accepted that feather asymmetry is important for the
origin of bird flight,” Xu Xing, a paleontologist at the Chinese Academy
of Sciences who co-led this study, told National Geographic. “And now we
can demonstrate that this feature has a wide distribution outside the
Scientists will now study Jianianhualong tengi to learn more about how
it used its feathers and try to determine if it could fly or not. That
investigation could have a major impact on how scientists think about
feathered dinosaurs. Some believe that feathered dinosaurs that could
not fly used their plumage to help them get around on the ground.
Another potential use could have been to make them more attractive to
- plumage /ˈpluː.mɪdʒ/ n. 羽毛
-例句：Male peacocks have beautiful plumage.
- 延伸：plum n. 梅子；plumb v. 装水管、探索；plumb adv. 恰好
Jianianhualong tengi and its asymmetrical feathers will help answer
those questions and likely pose new ones. Its discovery is a major
breakthrough, and it has researchers excited—especially the team that
“We expected that somebody might find asymmetrical feathers in a
troodontid someday because they have such similar skeletons to birds,”
study leader Michael Pittman from the University of Hong Kong told
Forbes. “But for it to be us was really wonderful.”