Microraptor (lat. Microraptor is a genus of small dromaeosaurids. About two dozen well-preserved specimens were found in the Early Cretaceous deposits in Liaoning (China), dated approximately 130-125.5 million years ago.
There is an assumption that all specimens belong to the same species (M. zhaoianus). In addition, it is possible that Cryptovolans, another four-winged dromaeosaurus, may also be a member of the Microraptor genus.
Most of the work with dinosaurs in Liaoning was carried out by the Chinese paleontologist Xu Xing, born in 1969. After he described Sinornithosaurus and Beipiaosaurus in 1999., he named thirty more dinosaurs found in China, a record number for any living paleontologist today.
Like Archeopteryx, Microraptor provides important evidence for the relationship between dinosaurs and birds. Microraptor had long, contoured feathers with asymmetrical barbs that formed wing-like surfaces not only on the forelimbs and tail, but, surprisingly, on the hind limbs as well.
This prompted Xu and his co-authors to call the microraptor a “four-winged dinosaur” and suggest that it could glide using all four limbs. According to recent studies, they not only ate birds, but also ate them almost entirely.
This conclusion follows from the fact that a relatively well-preserved bird skeleton was found inside one of the dinosaur skeletons. According to scientists, the microraptor had black iridescent plumage. They established this by finding melanosomes in fossilized feathers.
The fossil preserved the smallest details, leaving no doubt about what exactly we are seeing. But the wings were not large enough to support the weight of the torso, so the microraptor could not fly properly.
It has been suggested that the microraptor climbed a tree trunk and glided from it to another trunk, snatching lizards and dragonflies along the way. Biologists have long argued whether animals that could plan could learn to fly (a gliding animal simply spreads its wings to stay in the air, and flying animals flap their wings). And this fossil suggested that they could.