An illustrated life reconstruction of Jianianhualong tengi shows off its asymmetrical feathers.
Julius T. Csotonyi and Xu, Currie, Pittman et al.
By Madeline Farber
May 3, 2017

A team of paleontologists in China recently discovered a new species of feathered, chicken-like dinosaur.

The feathered beasts, which are the the earliest known bird ancestor, were found in the country’s region of Liaoning, according to USA Today, which cites the study published in Nature Communications, a British journal. The 125 million year-old fossilized skeletons are well well-preserved, USA Today reports. The prehistoric animal is about three-feet long, and has been named Jianianhualong tengi.

While it’s not clear if the animal could fly, it does have asymmetrical feathers—which is a key factor in the history of animal flight, notes USA Today.

“Asymmetrical feathers have been associated with flight capability, but are also found in species that do not fly, and their appearance was a major event in feather evolution,” the authors write in the study, according to USA Today.

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