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The Changyuraptor yangi: A 125-million-years-old flying dinosaur with four wings

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By Will Dunham

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – It was built sort of like a biplane but probably did not fly as well, if at all.

Scientists on Tuesday described a fossil of a strange dinosaur that lived in China 125 million years ago which was covered in feathers, looked like it had two sets of wings and may have been able to glide.

The meat-eating creature, called Changyuraptor yangi, had exceptionally long tail feathers, the longest feathers of any dinosaur, at one foot in length (30 cm). It had feather-covered forelimbs akin to wings as well as legs covered in feathers in a way that gave the appearance of a second set of wings.

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Changyuraptor is not considered a bird but rather a very bird-like dinosaur. It illustrates that it is not always easy to tell what is and is not a bird. It measured a bit more than 4 feet long (1.3 meters) and weighed roughly 9 pounds (4 kg).

If a person saw Changyuraptor, the reaction likely would be: “Hey! That is a weird-looking bird,” according to paleontologist Alan Turner of Stony Brook University in New York, one of the researchers.

“So, think a mid-sized turkey with a very long tail,” Turner added.

Scientists have identified a handful of these ‘four-winged’ dinosaurs, known as microraptorines. Changyuraptor is the largest.

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Birds arose from small, feathered dinosaurs. Crow-sized Archaeopteryx, which lived about 150 million years ago, is considered the earliest known bird. But many dinosaurs before and after that had feathers and other bird-like characteristics.

“Changyuraptor is very, very similar to Archaeopteryx and other primitive birds. So are many other dinosaurs like Anchiornis and Pedopenna. But they have some traits that birds lack, and lack some traits that birds have,” Turner added.

Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County paleontologist Luis Chiappe, who led the study, said Changyuraptor lived in a forested environment in a temperate climate, hunting birds, mammals, small reptiles and fish.

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“Animals like Changyuraptor were probably not engaged in powered flight like modern birds. However, Changyuraptor and dinosaurs like it could flap their wings and certainly had large feathered surfaces on both their forelimbs and hind limbs,” Turner said.

“So this does raise the possibility they could glide or ‘fly’ in a primitive sort of way. The way I like to think of it is: if you pushed them out of a tree, they’d fall pretty slowly,” Turner added.

If Changyuraptor were able to become airborne, its long tail feathers may have helped reduce descent speed and enabled safe landings. “This helps explain how animals like Changyuraptor could engage in some form of aerial locomotion – flight, gliding, and/or controlled descents – despite their size,” Turner added.

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In birds today, feathers can serve multiple functions beyond flight, including display, species recognition and mating rituals. Turner said Changyuraptor’s feathers also may have served multiple purposes.

China has become a treasure trove for feathered dinosaur fossils. Changyuraptor was unearthed in Liaoning Province in northeastern China.

The study was published in the journal Nature Communications.

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(Reporting by Will Dunham; Editing by James Dalgleish)

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‘It’s treachery if not treason’: Harvard’s Laurence Tribe destroys Trump’s claim he’s above the law

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Legendary constitutional law expert Laurence Tribe explained the legality of President Donald Trump's claim to be above the law during a Thursday evening appearance on MSNBC's "The Last Word" with Lawrence O'Donnell.

The host played a notorious clip of Trump.

"I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose any voters. Okay? It’s like incredible," Trump argued.

"And now he has gone beyond that," O'Donnell noted. "Now the president is sayin, 'I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot someone and I cannot be prosecuted for that crime. Or any crime.'"

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Internet blown away by Giuliani’s ‘pants-sh*tting panic’ freak out on CNN’s Cuomo

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Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani received harsh reviews of his Thursday evening appearance on CNN with anchor Chris Cuomo.

Many people worried about Giuliani's mental health after watching the interview.

Here is some of what people were saying about Trump's defense attorney.

https://twitter.com/RadioFreeTom/status/1174860581897199617

https://twitter.com/ananavarro/status/1174859510600613888?s=21

https://twitter.com/elise_jordan/status/1174857898800898048?s=21

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Maddow is visibly shocked Trump is claiming in court the president can’t even be investigated

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The host of "The Rachel Maddow Show" on MSNBC was flabbergasted by the latest court moves by President Donald Trump as he continues to hide his tax returns from investigators.

The host noted the ongoing legal battle Trump is waging to keep his accounting firm, Mazars, from handing over eight years of his tax returns to New York state investigators.

The host was shocked by the headline on the front-page of The Washington Post website.

[caption id="attachment_1544917" align="aligncenter" width="640"] Headline in The New York Times: "Trump Lawyers Argue He Cannot Be Criminally Investigated" screengrab.[/caption]

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