Friday, August 31, 2012


Sinocalliopteryx gigas
Sinocalliopteryx certainly has a mouthful of a name! It actually translates to "Chinese Beautiful Feather," as they had feathers, and their fossils were uncovered in the Yixian Formation in north east China. It is a relatively new species, in terms of discovery, and was only first described in 2007.

Sinocalliopteryx lived around 130-125 million years ago, during the Early Cretaceous. They are the largest known members of their entire family, measuring nearly 8ft long. These guys were bipedal, and had powerful hind legs and arms that were longer than most others in their family. They also had "proto-feathers," which were thin, hairlike feathers. (I imagine something that looked similar to the feathers on a Cassowary).

New research has come out that suggests Sinocalliopteryx hunted much like a modern cat does. Fossil evidence shows that they flying creatures, including small aerial Dinosaurs. They probably stalked these animals quietly, hiding in the underbrush. Then, when the right moment hit, they would jump up into the air with their powerful hind legs and snatch on to the prey. This theory is still controversial, as fossils are only able to tell us so much about behavior. However, the leg anatomy, coupled with the presence of flying creatures in the digestive system, makes for a compelling argument.

Status : Extinct for around 125 million years
Location : China
Size :  Length up to 8ft (2.5m)
Classification : Phylum : Chordata -- Class : Reptilia -- clade : Dinosauria
Family : †Compsognathidae -- Genus : †Sinocalliopteryx -- Species : †S. gigas

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