Microraptor

The feathers on this dinosaur weren’t made to show off or maintain body temperature; they were made purely for flight. The Microraptor was a four-winged dromaeosaurid, one of the most majestic its kind has to offer.

Key Facts

DomainDescription
Microraptor pronunciationMIKE-ROW-RAP-TOR
What does Microraptor mean?Tiny plunderer
Dinosaur typeTheropod
On the menuCarnivorous
Length0.8 meters (3 feet)
Height0.2 m (0.7 feet)
Weight1 kg (about 2 lbs)
Life expectancy25 years
Legs used to get aroundBipedal
Estimated top speed36 km/h (22.3 mph)
When they livedEarly Cretaceous era 125-122 million years ago
Where they have been found?China

When & Where

The discovery of the Microraptor was highly unusual. At a press conference held by National Geographic in 1999, a new genus named Archaeoraptor was unveiled. However, the fossil in question was a chimera, meaning it was an assembly of elements from different species. Paleontologist Xu Xing described the tail remains from the forged fossil as belonging to a new species, giving it the name Microraptor zhaoianus.

Size & Weight

An adult Microraptor could reach a length of 77 centimeters and weighed around 1 kilogram. They are one of the smallest non-avian dinosaurs known. The Microraptor was also one of the first non-avialan dinosaurs discovered with the impressions of feathers and wings.

Mobility & Diet

Despite the popular misconception, there’s evidence showing that the Microraptor couldn’t fly. Their legs lacked the muscles for a ground take-off, so the Microraptor resorted to gliding, covering over forty meters in one undulating glide. Their carnivorous diet consisted of mammals, birds, and fish. However, unlike its close relative, the Anchiornis, the Microraptor likely didn’t have gastric pellets.

Interesting Points

  • The naming of the Microraptor was controversial, due to unusual circumstances surrounding its first given name, Archaeoraptor.
  • The Microraptor lived approximately 120 million years ago in eastern China.
  • They were carnivores, feeding primarily on mammals, birds and fish.
  • They were extremely abundant in their ecosystems.