Unusual fossil of feathered dino found in Germany
July 4, 2012, 12:10 am TWN
WASHINGTON--German researchers said Monday they have discovered a fossil of a feathered hatchling that may be the earliest evidence of a plumed, meat-eating dinosaur that was not closely related to birds.
The fossil is believed to belong to a young land-based dinosaur from the Late Jurassic period, some 170 million years ago, said the study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Named Sciurumimus albersdoerferi, in part after its bushy, squirrel-like tail — tree squirrels come from the genus Sciurus — it is the "most complete megalosauroid fossil yet," the study said.
Megalosauroid is the name for a wide-ranging group of carnivorous dinosaurs that could grow as big as 30 feet (9 meters) long and weigh up to 1 ton.
The fossil, which shows a juvenile dinosaur with its jaws open and tail extending far over its head, was found in a quarry in Bavaria, Germany.
The hatchling likely had a large skull, shorter hind limbs and smooth skin with feathers covering its entire body.
Earlier this year, paleontologists in China said they had found a bizarre species of giant feathered dinosaur that weighed as much as a car and was related to the Tyrannosaurus Rex.