Palaeontologists working in China unearthed the fossil remains of the winged dinosaur named Zhenyuanlong suni, a close cousin of Velociraptor. Researchers said its wings - which are very short compared with other dinosaurs in the same family – consisted of multiple layers of large feathers.

They found that the species' feathers were complex structures made up of fine branches stemming from a central shaft. Although larger feathered dinosaurs have been identified before, none have possessed such complex wings made up of quill pen-like feathers, the team said. "This new dinosaur is one of the closest cousins of Velociraptor, but it looks just like a bird," stated Dr Steve Brusatte, of the University of Edinburgh's School of GeoSciences, who co-authored the study.

"It's a dinosaur with huge wings made up of quill pen feathers, just like an eagle or a vulture. The movies have it wrong - this is what Velociraptor would have looked like too," Brusatte said. Scientists have known for some time that many species of dinosaur had feathers, but most of these were covered with simple filaments that looked more like hair than modern bird feathers.

This latest discovery suggests that winged dinosaurs with larger and more complex feathers were more diverse than previously thought. The species belonged to a family of feathered carnivores that was widespread during the Cretaceous Period, and lived around 125 million years ago, the team opined.

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