Bodies Built to Fly

  • By Rima Chaddha
  • Posted 02.01.08
  • NOVA

With its four wings and a long, bony tail, the small, feathered dinosaur Microraptor was unlike any bird alive today. In this interactive, learn how paleontologists have traced the evolution of gliding and flight by comparing the skeleton of Microraptor with that of the first known bird, Archaeopteryx, and Deinonychus, one of Microraptor's closest non-flying relatives.

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Compare the anatomy of the oldest known bird and its dinosaur cousins.



(dino family tree, Microraptor skeletal image)
© Alan H. Turner/American Museum of Natural History
(Microraptor & Deinonychus life drawings)
© Mick Ellison
(Archaeopteryx & Deinonychus skeletal images)
© Scott Hartman
(Archaeopteryx life drawing)
Illustration by John Sibbick/Natural History Museum

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