raptor

Microraptor zhaoianus, M. gui, M. hanqingi

Source: artisticthingem

Name: Microraptor zhaoianus, M. gui, M. hanqingi

Name Meaning: Small Thief

First Described: 2000

Described By: Xu et al. 

ClassificationDinosauria, Saurischia, Eusaurischia, Theropoda, Neotheropoda, Averostra, Tetanurae, Orionides, Avetheropoda, Coelurosauria, Tyrannoraptora, Maniraptoriformes, Maniraptora, Pennaraptora, Paraves, Eumaniraptora, Dromaeosauroidea, Dromaeosauridae, Microraptoria

Microraptor is a fairly famous little dinosaur due to its clear four wings on its fossil. It is known from numerous (over 300 specimens), very well preserved fossils from Liaoning, China, in the Jiufotang Formation. Microraptor lived in the Aptian age of the Early Cretaceous, about 125 to 120 million years ago. Microraptor was distinctive at the time of its discovery for having long, pennaceous feathers, the kind that we typically associate only with birds - solidifying the link between birds and dinosaurs. It was about 1 meter long and only would come up to the calf of a 1.8 meter high person. It had a thick covering of feathers all over its body, with a fan on the end of the tail. Its fossilized melanosomes, or pigment cells, have been analyzed, and found to have black, glossy coloration and iridescence like modern starlings. 

Source: http://www.jsg.utexas.edu/news/2012/03/dinosaur-feathers-evolved-to-attract-mates/

Microraptor, in having four limbs, and a tail fan, was probably able to glide between trees. In fact, the hind wings would have hindered its ability to run on the ground, and would have been confined to an arboreal environment. However, whether or not it could actually fly - meaning, power its own movement through the sky - is fairly controversial. It may have had too primitive of shoulder joints to flap; however it did have a shoulder girdle that could have allowed the wings to be positioned vertically, allowing upstroke of the wing. Wind tunnel experiments have been conducted that Microraptor could actually glide fairly well, regardless of its ability to power its own flight. 

Source: http://green-mamba.deviantart.com/art/072-MICRORAPTOR-ZHAOIANUS-328017378

To glide, it has ben suggested that its hindlimbs and forelimbs were on different levels, such as on a biplane. It could have then glided by launching from a perch, swooping down, and then landing on another tree. Through this model, Microraptor could have potentially achieved powered flight, in addition to gliding. There are some who criticize this hypothesis, though these studies have been insufficient at best. Whether or not the biplane model is correct will require more testing and analysis. On the ground, Microraptor would have dragged its feathers behind him, and only by keeping the wings elevated could it have avoided damaging them. Thus it did not use its forelimbs to capture prey. It may have parachuted from trees to ambush prey on the ground from short distances. Thus, this creature was a mainly arboreal species, spending most o fits life in the trees. 

Source: http://emilywilloughby.com/gallery/paleoart/microraptor-takeoff

This has profound implications for the evolution of flight in birds. It indicates that avian flight evolved from predominantly being powered by all four limbs to being only powered by the forelimbs. Studies of Archaeopteryx, modern birds, and dinosaurs with long primaries on their feet such as Pedopenna indicate that bird flight did undergo this shift. Microraptor has been preserved with remains of food in its stomach as well- specifically it could feed on mammals, lizards, and even tree-perching birds. It also could have eaten fish, due to the evidence of fish scales found in the abdomen. Thus, Microraptor was an opportunistic hunter, feeding on those things it could find in its habitat and glide down to catch. It may have been nocturnal, however its iridescent plumage indicates that this is unlikely. 

Sources: 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microraptor

http://www.prehistoric-wildlife.com/species/m/microraptor.html

Shout out goes to artisticthingem​, the artist of the top Microraptor (and a general lover of four-winged dinosaurs, ad my friend)!

7

As promised, here are the peregrine falcon photos I took today. I’m a hobbyist animal/nature photographer with a good camera and I try to get the best photos possible, but some of these didn’t turn out so great; the reason being the double layer of fencing around the enclosures. My favorite of these is the second photo. Feel free to reblog this post, but do not take and repost these photos.

Photos belong to me. Do not use in any way without my prior written permission.

3

Three new Jurassic World posters have been revealed over this weekend. The first features the Indominus and Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) eyeing each other through the paddock, while the second sees a young park visitor observing the mosasaurus catching a shark in the Jurassic World aquarium. 

The third of the set, released Sunday morning, depicts Owen (Chris Pratt) on his motorcycle racing alongside the “raptor squad” of Blue, Charlie, Delta and Echo.

In addition to the posters, a new trailer will be released on Monday along with the opening of early ticket sales for the movie! 

3

Meet the three Barn Owl sisters, in order, Doodlebug, Ruby, and Scarlett!

These lovely birds will be a year old in July, and I remember when they were just fluffy clouds of feather! These girls are so calm and so content around people, Ruby is always prone to falling asleep if you gently pet her head! All three are awesome birds and are always popular with the visitors!

*My photos DO NOT remove caption or re-upload*

7

Jurassic World rocks this month’s issue of Empire magazine. With two variant slash-mark covers which unfold to reveal the Indominus Rex, new images from the movie, and an “extensive feature on Colin Trevorrow’s take on Steven Spielberg’s iconic dino-franchise, featuring exclusive on-set access and details to thrill Jurassic Park aficionados,” the issue is presently arriving in subscribers’ mailboxes and goes on sale on news stands on April 30.

Thanks Jurassic World Universe