Chiappe and an international team found the dinosaur in the Liaoning Province of northeastern China. Based on multiple recent discoveries there, this site was a hotbed of dino activity back in the Cretaceous, and many of the dinosaurs had feathers.
Changyuraptor looks as if it had four wings instead of the usual two, due to long feathers that jutted out from its legs. Such "four-winged" dinosaurs belonged to a group known as "microraptorine," or tiny raptors.
Before non-avian dinosaurs went extinct, some of them hunted birds. They also likely ate fish, swooping over bodies of water to catch their dinner. Such moves would have been all the more impressive considering that Changyuraptor weighed 9 pounds. (By comparison, seagulls typically weigh only about 1.5 pounds.)
"The new fossil documents that dinosaur flight was not limited to very small animals, but to dinosaurs of more substantial size," Chiappe said.
Archaeopteryx, the iconic early bird, lived approximately 150 million years ago. Birds, therefore, were around for just 25 million years before Changyuraptor emerged -- a drop in the proverbial geologic bucket.