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Meet ‘new’ raptor dinosaur Zhenyuanlong suni — a ‘fluffy feathered poodle from hell’

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Scientists have unearthed a spectacularly preserved, nearly complete fossil in northeastern China of a feathered dinosaur with wings like those of a bird, although they doubt the strange creature could fly.

The researchers on Thursday said the fast-running meat-eater was about 6 feet (1.8 meters) long and covered with simple hair-like feathers over much of its body, with large, quill-like feathers on its wings and long tail.

The largest-known dinosaur with wings, it lived about 125 million years ago during the Cretaceous Period. Considering its mouth full of sharp teeth and its overall oddness, University of Edinburgh paleontologist Steve Brusatte dubbed the dinosaur, named Zhenyuanlong suni, a “fluffy feathered poodle from hell.”

A member of a group of dinosaurs called raptors closely related to birds, it was a cousin of Velociraptor, although that dinosaur, featured inaccurately in the “Jurassic Park” films as much bigger than it was, lived about 40-50 million years later.

“Zhenyuanlong was a dinosaur that really looked like a bird,” said Brusatte, who collaborated with Chinese paleontologist Junchang Lü. “You wouldn’t think of it differently than a turkey or an emu or a big chicken.”

In their form and shape, its wings looked like those of a modern bird like an eagle or vulture.

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“If you saw this wing on its own, you would probably think that Zhenyuanlong could fly. But it’s a fairly big raptor, and its arms are so short in proportion to its body, that I have a hard time believing that it could fly or glide or do anything in the air,” Brusatte said.

More likely, Brusatte said, Zhenyuanlong used its wings for display the way a peacock uses its tail feathers to attract mates and intimidate rivals. Another possibility is using the wings to brood eggs in the nest, Brusatte said.

Brusatte said finding a dinosaur with traits like Zhenyuanlong’s raises questions about why wings evolved in the first place.

“Did they evolve specifically for flight? In that case, Zhenyuanlong perhaps descended from a flying ancestor and that’s why it still has wings. Or, alternatively, did wings first evolve for display or egg brooding or some other type of function, and then only in some dinosaurs were they later co-opted into airfoils for gliding and flying?”

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Birds evolved from small feathered dinosaurs. The oldest-known bird, crow-sized Archaeopteryx, lived about 150 million years ago.

The research was published in the journal Scientific Reports.

(Reporting by Will Dunham; Editing by Sandra Maler)

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Hope Hicks told Congress that Trump has cut her out of his life — he virtually never calls her anymore

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Former White House Communications Director Hope Hicks was broadly considered to be one of President Donald Trump's favorite staffers.

But when she left the administration in 2018, the president virtually cut off ties to her, and has only spoken with her five times since then, according to the transcript of the closed-door hearing in the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday:

In her interview, Hope Hicks says she has only spoken to Trump between five and ten times since she left the White House in February 2018. (He used to call that much in a day.) They last spoke in April, when they had dinner. Our story from yesterday:https://t.co/3gzVY21c3z pic.twitter.com/VMZqhnbgib

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Hope Hicks called Trump’s plan for Jeff Sessions ‘odd’ — but White House lawyers blocked her from elaborating why

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By all accounts, ex-White House Communications Director Hope Hicks was not particularly forthcoming in her interview with the House Judiciary Committee — but according to the 273-page transcript of the closed-door hearing released on Thursday, she did begin to discuss a key point at which President Donald Trump potentially obstructed justice — until White House lawyers sitting with her intervened.

CNN's Manu Raju explained the details to Wolf Blitzer on "The Situation Room."

"She did answer some questions about her time in the campaign season, and at one point did make one reference to something that later became a dispute," said Raju. "She was asked about the details in the Mueller report in which the president tried to get Jeff Sessions, the then-Attorney General, to un-recuse himself, to go back and oversee the Russia investigation after he had stepped aside from overseeing it."

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Elections regulator warns foreign intrusion into US campaigns is already happening

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In a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee, the Federal Elections Commission is warning that there is already foreign intrusion in the U.S. campaigns.

FEC chair Ellen L. Weintraub was forced to issue a statement after President Donald Trump said that he wasn't sure what he would do if a foreign government approached him with "dirt" on his political opponent. He said that he "might" tell the FBI but would likely hear what they had to say. He said that it wasn't illegal, but Weintraub issued a statement reiterating that it is illegal.

"I am particularly concerned about the risk of illicit funds and foreign support influencing our political system. Foreign dark money represents a significant vulnerability for American democracy. We do not know the extent to which our political campaigns receive foreign dark money, but we do know that the political money can be weaponized by well-funded hostile powers," the letter warned.

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