A newfound squirrel-tailed specimen is the most primitive meat-eating dinosaur with feathers, according to a new study. The late-Jurassic discovery, study authors say, challenges the image of dinosaurs as “overgrown lizards.”
Unearthed recently from a Bavarian limestone quarry, the “exquisitely preserved” 150-million-year-old fossil has been dubbed Sciurumimus albersdoerferi—”Scirius” being the scientific name for tree squirrels.
Sciurumimus was likely a young megalosaur, a group of large, two-legged meat-eating dinosaurs. The hatchling had a large skull, short hind limbs, and long, hairlike plumage on its midsection, back, and tail.
Previously, paleontologists have found feathers only on coelurosaurs—birdlike dinosaurs that evolved later than so-called megalosaurs such as Sciurumimus.