The Velociraptor was probably covered by feathers, which he could not fly. Photo: Mick Ellison, American Museum of Natural History
Reading The Velociraptor had feathers. This is what American scientists say after studying the bones of the dinosaur, which had spectacular appearances in extremely exaggerated size in the movie Jurassic Park. The scientists around Alan Turner of the Natural History Museum in New York found extensions on the forearm bones of the Velociraptors, as they also occur in modern birds. At these elevations start the flight feathers of the animals. Nevertheless, the Velociraptor could not fly. The approximately turkey-sized animal is the first medium-sized specimen of reptiles that is known to be covered in feathers. The Velociraptor lived about 80 million years ago in present-day Mongolia. The fossil bones, which had already been excavated in 1998 and have now been re-examined by Turner and his colleagues, are also from there. The researchers discovered six small surveys on the forearm bones of reptiles, similar to the bony prominences on which the flight feathers of today's birds begin. "We have long suspected that the velociraptors had feathers. But the bone processes clearly show this, "says Turner.

Up to 14 flight feathers had space on the forearm bones of the dinosaurs, the researchers explain. Nevertheless, the Velociraptor could not fly: In addition, his front extremities were too short compared to his other body. Nevertheless, the scientists emphasize the resemblance between bird and velociraptor: "Both nestled in nests, had hollow bones and a collarbone and both were covered by feathers, " says Mark Norell of the Natural History Museum in New York, who also participated in the investigation. Probably the dinosaur used its feathers to keep the temperature constant in its nest, or he slowed it down when he went downhill, the scientists speculate. The feathers were probably the remnant of a smaller ancestor of the Velociraptor, who still had the ability to fly.

Alan Turner (Natural History Museum in New York) et al .: Science, Volume 317, page 1721 ddp / science.de? Anja Basters

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