Class : Reptilia
Order : Saurischia
Family : †Dromaeosauridae
Genus : †Microraptor
Length : 2ft (61cm)
Status : Extinct since the Early Cretaceous, 120 million years ago.
Microraptors were tiny, predatory dinosaurs that most likely fed on insects and small vertebrates, including small mammals. They are some of the smallest Dinosaurs ever discovered.
Around two dozen nearly complete specimens have been uncovered in China during the last decade or so, and what makes these Dinosaurs so remarkable is that we know for a fact that they had feathers. And not only that, but they basically had two full sets of wings, one set on the front arms, and the second on the hind legs. These feathers were similar to the flight feathers that we see on our modern birds, and because of them Microraptor was most likely able to glide. These long flight feathers are a contrast to several other Dinosaurs, where feathers were present, but only as a covering and not for flight.
There is debate within paleontology regarding the origin of birds. Did they evolve directly from dinosaurs, or did they evolve independently through an as yet undiscovered species? Feathered Dinosaurs like Microraptor can help us to one day solve that mystery.