A “fluffy” dinosaur covered in primitive feathers may have been hampered in its early attempts at flight, research suggests.
The crow-sized dinosaur Anchiornis had feathers that fluffed up rather than lying flat like those of modern birds, a new study has shown.
They would probably have caused drag when the creature tried to glide between trees, say scientists.
In addition they would not have been as good at regulating temperature and repelling water as modern bird feathers.
Anchiornis had four “wings” consisting of feather-covered arms and legs that may have helped it to glide before the evolution of powered flight.
The scientists built up what they claimed to be a highly accurate picture of the dinosaur after closely examining its fossils.
Evan Saitta, from the University of Bristol, said: “Overall our study provides some new insight into the appearance of dinosaurs, their behaviour and physiology, and the evolution of feathers, birds and powered flight.”
The scientists investigated feather structure in several dinosaur specimens from museums in China and Germany.
The findings are reported in the journal Paleontology.